Walking Bombs

Finally a time of silence … of peace …
How long did he wait for it? He couldn’t say that. Jarmo Dorak looked at his own picture in the mirror.

Have you gotten older, old buddy? He asked himself. His brown hair – has it gotten lighter? His blue eyes, did they show he was almost 34 years old?
He hoped they don’t.

A rumble shook the shuttle. Landing. The arrival. They had finally arrived.
“Commander”, said the pilot from his seat, “we are now in the parking position. Shall I wait?”
“What are your general orders?”
“To ask you if I should wait.”
Thanks for that exact answer, thought Dorak. He moved his hand around his chin.
“Well, as far as I know, there are many transports waiting, it won’t be wise to keep you waiting here. Contact VERI’S BASTION and let them know that you are ready to depart. I will inform you if I need a return transport. “
“Yes sir!”
The door opened and Jarmo got off the shuttle. The little ship had landed in front of a castle-like building made of sand-colored stone. A shipyard. In front of it lay a ship that was almost ready to sail. A sailing ship. But Dorak knew that inside the building was one of the most modern shipyards for spaceships. He walked towards the building. A guard stood near a staircase leading up to the stairs.
“Sir,” he said, “may I see your ID?”
Dorak took his identity card out of the pocket of his uniform trousers. Of course he was wearing the ASTROCOHORS uniform, but the guard had to make sure. He took the ID card and inserted it into an electronic reader. A few seconds later, the device confirmed the identity.
“Everything’s alright, Commander!”, Said the security guard and gave Jarmo his card back, “You can pass!”
“Thanks very much.”
The commander went up the stairs to a door. He opened it and finally entered the building. Inside was a large room. Dorak was in a kind of gallery, a path along the wall to the other side of the room, where he disappeared into a door. The shipyard’s construction hall was located below. And there was a small ship in it. It was in the shape of a rounded triangle. To be precise, all of the shapes on it were round, even the front went up in a round. It looked sleek and elegant. On the front there were some letters that read:

SCSV 1512

He could only see one side from where he was, but assumed that name was on both sides of the ship. A prototype. A development from other ships. Something completely new. “SCSV” stood for “Space Cruising and Submergence Vehicle”. It could fly in space, in the atmosphere of a planet, and it could even dive, swim, and submerge in water. At least in theory. But half a dozen technicians ran around and climbed onto the little ship. One repaired the hull with a welder. Sparks flew everywhere. Another was looking at a blueprint.
Suddenly Dorak heard a woman’s voice. He could not understand the first words, but thought they were spoken in a language of the continent of Europe. The next few words were in the common language so that he could understand them.
“No! No!” Said the woman, “That belongs here and that belongs there!”
Then Dorak saw her. Before she had stood behind the ship, now she came around, another technician followed her. She looked like she was under stress. The technician looked like that too. But she wasn’t a technician. The overalls she was wearing indicated that she was a pilot. And she had a hard hat on. After all, it was a shipyard and they worked hard here.
Dorak walked down the path to the other side. When he came through the door, he finally found another flight of stairs down. He went down the stairs and now entered the construction hall on the lower level. Up close, the ship looked even more impressive. But now Dorak saw the other side of it and saw that a part the size of 1 square meter had been removed from the fuselage. And there was a technician working there.
The woman came back around the ship. She looked at a data pad and again said something Dorak couldn’t understand. But he thought it was Portuguese.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“Yes?” She looked up and was surprised to see him.
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Jarmo Dorak from ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” he said, “Are you the officer in charge of the ATLANTICA project?”

Beatriz del Almeida

“Yes I am,” she said.
“Nice to meet you!”
“Nice to meet you too, Commander Jarmo Dorak.” Jarmo found the way she called him a little strange, but he didn’t let it show. “May I introduce myself,” she continued. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Beatriz de Almeida. I’m Brazilian. Almeida comes from my father’s family. He was from Portugal.”
“He was …” began Dorak.
“Yes, he’s already …”
“I am sorry!”
“That’s okay! Actually, both of my parents are dead. They died in an accident. It happened during a trip to Earth seven years ago.”
As she talked, she moved back to the spaceship. She gave the technicians some final orders and let them go on with their work.
“It’s noon,” she said then, without taking her eyes off the hull of the spaceship. “Would you like to join me for lunch? We could talk about the project. That was what you wanted to talk about in the first place, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. I accept the offer. Let’s go!”

A restaurant in an ASTROCOHORS spaceport isn’t exactly a glamorous place to be, but that wasn’t a “real” date anyway. Beatriz felt awful when she excused herself to go to the bathroom and saw those big black bags under her eyes in the mirror. The result of three nights of work without sleep. She worked pretty hard on the ATLANTICA project and because of her intense commitment, her superiors decided to give her a very special mission. As always, she looked in the mirror and started talking to herself again …

“Do I really look thirty-four? My friends say I don’t, but how can I trust them? They like me. I don’t really like that light brown color in my hair. I should have listened to my brother and kept the red as he did. It’s too late now! “

She left the bathroom feeling even worse. She felt older and even more tired. Still, she managed to resume the conversation and ask Dorak what he wanted to eat. They also found something on the menu. Jarmo wanted to be polite and asked if Beatrice would like to drink wine.

“Not for me,” she declined. “I’ve worked so hard these days. A glass would make me fall asleep for days … Sorry!”

“No problem.” In his mind he rebuked himself. What’s the matter with you? He asked himself. You act like this is a date. You don’t drink alcohol yourself, so why now?
He tried to focus his mind on something else.
“Are you telling me about the project?” He asked her. “Something tells me it’s busy. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right and I’m glad you came because I was supposed to see you earlier, but I really didn’t find the time.”
“Well, then I’ll tell you what I know about this mission. Very little, actually. Our mission, in a few words, is to get the ATLANTICA up and running and to test it.”
“Yeah, pretty much that, but we have to do ‘something extra’, Mr. Dorak.”
“Please call me Jarmo. What would that ‘extra something’ be, Miss Almeida?”
“You can call me Beatriz, okay? We’re partners now, so … I’m telling you everything I know. ASTROCOHORS has some reason to believe that there might be a place on Earth that is hidden underwater Its location is not entirely clear yet, but scientists believe it is somewhere in the southern hemisphere. Geologists say volcanic activity has submerged large areas of land. Just think of Doggerland. “
“But … if it was a volcano, then there shouldn’t be anything left of the land masses.”
“Special laboratories have been searching the oceans for some time. They use special ships like the ATLANTICA. They found significant evidence that there is life in certain regions. And it is underwater.”
“I understand. In addition to flying, our ship is also equipped for underwater trips.”
“Yes,” confirmed Beatriz, “we also have diving suits on board for a wide variety of water depths. However, the armor for the extreme depths must be touched up again. Something is wrong with the energy generators. If someone uses such a suit, he is at the moment more som sort of walking bomb. “
“But wait, what exactly is that land mass we are supposed to find there?”
“I’m not sure yet. That’s why they want us on this mission. What I know is that this is the first time we are to use our ship underwater. We will be the first to dive with the ATLANTICA. Isn’t it great? Aren’t you looking forward to it? “
She was very excited. It was almost contagious.
“Okay,” she smiled. “I’ll tell you what I know. Have you ever heard of the Cita Nalur icosahedron?”
Dorak’s eyes lit up. “Now it’s getting even more interesting!” He said. “The icosahedron is said to be part of a network to which the temple of the wind harp also belongs. It could be a trace to the temple.”
Now Beatrice smiled too. “Yes, and what is hidden under the water is supposed to be Cita Nalur itself! And what do you say now?”
Jarmo was flabbergasted. He was silent. Then he hugged Beatrice. Simply that way. Quite spontaneously. He had to express his exuberance of emotion. Beatrice was surprised, but not averse. It had been a long time since anyone had hugged her.
Then Dorak broke the embrace again. “Sorry,” he muttered. “That … was the excitement.”
“That’s fine,” she replied. “With the enthusiasm we both have, we should have succeeded in locating Cita Nalur!”
“And to see what is true of all the legends and what is not,” added Jarmo.
The waiter came and brought them the drinks, chilled mineral water.
“Mineral water or not,” said Dorak, “we can toast with it. I think this is a great moment. And we have something great ahead of us! To a good cooperation!”
Jarmo and Beatriz raised their glasses. “To a good cooperation!”, Said Beatrice.
The glasses rang and both looked into each other’s eyes. Then they each took a sip.
“This is how we continued the story of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” said Dorak. “Maybe at some point we should open departments.”

Freezing Torture

In the dormitories of Harvard University, a young man named Mark Zuckerberg sat hunched over his computer, peering into the digital realm with a glimmer of ambition in his eyes. Little did he know that his late-night endeavors would soon sow the seeds for what would become one of the most influential and pervasive social platforms in the world—Facebook.

Our tale begins in the early 2000s, a time when the internet was rapidly transforming the way people connected and communicated. Mark, a brilliant computer programmer with a penchant for innovation, saw an opportunity to create a digital space where students could connect, share ideas, and build virtual communities.

Armed with a passion for coding and a burning desire to leave his mark on the world, Mark embarked on a journey to bring his vision to life. With the help of his college roommates, Andrew McCollum, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

In February 2004, Facebook emerged from the depths of Mark’s dorm room, originally known as “TheFacebook.” It started as an exclusive platform for Harvard students, igniting a spark of excitement and curiosity among the campus population. The concept was simple yet powerful—a digital space where users could create profiles, upload photos, and connect with friends and acquaintances.

As word of this novel platform spread like wildfire, the demand for expansion grew. Mark’s brainchild soon reached other prestigious universities, spreading its roots to Stanford, Columbia, and beyond. With each new expansion, the social network evolved, adapting to the needs and desires of its ever-growing user base.

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But like any great tale, there were hurdles to overcome. Facebook faced challenges in balancing user privacy, dealing with controversies, and fending off competition from other budding social platforms. Yet, through it all, Mark’s relentless determination and the collective spirit of his team propelled Facebook forward, transforming it into a global sensation.

As the platform expanded beyond college campuses, Facebook became a virtual melting pot, bridging gaps between people, cultures, and continents. It evolved from a mere networking tool into a juggernaut of social interaction, encompassing everything from personal connections to business ventures and societal movements.

An Eye for an Eye

Mei-Lin Zhou had been chasing Lord Pavor for months now. She had been following clues from planet to planet, trying to uncover his location and put an end to his reign of terror. Mei-Lin was a skilled detective, but she was also a fighter. She had taken down countless members of Pavor’s terrorist group, but she knew that the only way to truly stop him was to find him and take him out.

Mei-Lin was on her way to the next planet on her list when she received a message from an unknown sender. The message contained coordinates for a planet she had never heard of before, along with a simple message: “Come alone.”

Mei-Lin was suspicious, but she knew that she couldn’t pass up any potential leads. She landed on the planet, which was covered in dense forests and towering mountains. As she made her way through the trees, she heard a rustling in the bushes.

“Who’s there?” she called out.

A man stepped out from behind the trees. He was tall and lean, with piercing blue eyes and a rugged beard. Mei-Lin had never seen him before.

“I’m Jarmo Dorak,” he said, holding out his hand. “You must be Mei-Lin Zhou.”

Mei-Lin hesitated for a moment before shaking his hand. “How did you know my name?”

“I know a lot of things,” Jarmo said with a smirk. “Including the fact that we’re both looking for Lord Pavor.”

Mei-Lin narrowed her eyes. “What makes you think that?”

“I have reason to believe that he stole an ancient artifact from me,” Jarmo said. “And I think that artifact might be the key to finding him.”

Mei-Lin was intrigued. “What kind of artifact?”

“It’s a small, black sphere,” Jarmo said. “It’s said to have mystical powers. I’ve been searching for it for a long time, and I finally traced it to this planet. But when I got here, I found out that Pavor had already taken it.”

Mei-Lin frowned. “Why would Pavor want an ancient artifact?”

“I don’t know,” Jarmo admitted. “But I do know that we’re both after the same thing. And I think that if we work together, we might be able to find Pavor and the artifact.”

Mei-Lin hesitated. She wasn’t used to working with others, especially not strangers. But something about Jarmo’s confident demeanor and piercing blue eyes made her trust him.

“Okay,” she said. “Let’s work together.”

Jarmo grinned. “Great. I think I know where to start.”

Jarmo led Mei-Lin to a small spaceship that was hidden behind a row of trees. They climbed aboard and Jarmo set the coordinates for the next planet on their list.

As they flew through space, Jarmo filled Mei-Lin in on what he knew about the artifact.

“It’s called the Eye of the Phoenix,” he said. “Legend has it that it can grant immortality to whoever possesses it. But it’s also said to have a dark side. Anyone who uses it for evil will be cursed. But those are… well, just legends. The Eye of the Phoenix is more or less a map. But you know, legends can inspire people. So they hunt after this artifact in search for eternal life, and they do it at all costs.”

Mei-Lin raised an eyebrow. “Sounds like a dangerous thing to be chasing after.”

“It is,” Jarmo admitted. “But I have to find it. It’s the only way to… well, I have to find it.”

Mei-Lin didn’t press him for more information. She could tell that Jarmo was holding something back, but she also knew that she had her own reasons for stopping Pavor.

They landed on the next planet, which was a barren desert wasteland. The heat was scorching, and Mei-Lin had to shield her eyes from the blinding sun. Jarmo led her to a small outpost on the edge of the desert. The outpost was a ramshackle building made of scrap metal and old machine parts. A group of rough-looking men stood guard outside, eyeing Mei-Lin and Jarmo suspiciously.

“We need to get inside,” Jarmo whispered to Mei-Lin. “I think they might know something about Pavor.”

Mei-Lin nodded, and the two of them approached the guards. Jarmo flashed a small silver badge, which seemed to satisfy the guards. They stepped aside, allowing Mei-Lin and Jarmo to enter the outpost.

Inside, the air was thick with the smell of oil and sweat. Mei-Lin and Jarmo made their way through a maze of corridors, searching for any clues about Pavor’s whereabouts. They eventually came to a small room at the end of a hallway. Inside, a group of men were gathered around a table, studying a map of the planet.

Jarmo stepped forward. “Excuse me,” he said. “We’re looking for information about a man named Lord Pavor. Have you seen him?”

The men looked up, eyeing Mei-Lin and Jarmo warily. One of them spoke up. “Why are you looking for Pavor?”

Jarmo hesitated for a moment before pulling out a small device. “We’re tracking an artifact that he stole from us. It’s very important.”

The men exchanged a look before one of them nodded. “We heard that Pavor was seen near the old mining site. But be careful. That place is crawling with his men.”

Mei-Lin and Jarmo thanked the men before making their way out of the outpost. As they walked through the scorching desert, Jarmo turned to Mei-Lin.

“I didn’t tell them the whole truth,” he said. “Maybe they’ve heard about the legends. The dangerous ones, you know. But I must warn you: Pavor has heard of the legends, he wants to become immortal and will be trying to use it to take over the solar system.”

Mei-Lin frowned. “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

“I didn’t know if I could trust you,” Jarmo admitted. “But now I do. And I need your help to stop him.”

Mei-Lin nodded. “I’m in.”

They took off again, this time headed for a moon on the outer edges of the solar system. The moon was rumored to be haunted, and Mei-Lin felt a chill run down her spine as they approached. As they landed, they saw that the rumors were true. The moon was shrouded in mist, and strange noises echoed through the air.

Jarmo led Mei-Lin through the mist, searching for any sign of Pavor or the Eye of the Phoenix. They came to a small abandoned mining village, where the streets were lined with empty buildings and rusted machinery.

As they walked through the village, Mei-Lin saw a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned, but saw nothing.

“Did you see that?” she asked Jarmo.

Jarmo shook his head. “See what?”

“Never mind,” Mei-Lin said, shaking her head. “Let’s keep moving.”

They continued through the village, searching for any clues. Mei-Lin heard the sound of footsteps behind her, but when she turned, there was no one there.

Suddenly, a figure appeared out of the mist. It was a man, dressed in tattered clothing and carrying a large rifle. Mei-Lin and Jarmo tensed, ready for a fight, but the man simply nodded at them before disappearing back into the mist.

“What was that about?” Mei-Lin asked.

“I don’t know,” Jarmo said. “But we need to be careful. This place is dangerous.”

They made their way deeper into the village, eventually coming to an old mine shaft. Jarmo led the way, the light from his device casting eerie shadows on the walls.

Suddenly, they heard a sound behind them. They spun around, weapons drawn, but saw nothing.

“Okay, I’m starting to get a little freaked out,” Mei-Lin said.

“I know,” Jarmo said. “But we have to keep going. The Eye of the Phoenix must be here somewhere.”

They pressed on, deeper into the mine shaft. The air grew colder, and Mei-Lin felt a sense of unease wash over her. Suddenly, they came to a large chamber. In the center of the chamber was a pedestal, on top of which sat a small, glowing orb.

“The Eye of the Phoenix,” Jarmo whispered.

But before they could reach the pedestal, a group of men emerged from the shadows, weapons raised.

“Pavor’s men,” Jarmo said.

Mei-Lin and Jarmo fought with everything they had, taking down Pavor’s men one by one. But more and more kept coming, and soon they were outnumbered. Just when it seemed like all was lost, a group of figures appeared out of the mist. They were the same people Mei-Lin had seen earlier, dressed in tattered clothing and carrying weapons.

Together, they fought off Pavor’s men, their combined strength overwhelming their attackers. When the last of Pavor’s men fell, Mei-Lin and Jarmo turned to face their unlikely allies.

“Why did you help us?” Mei-Lin asked.

The leader of the group stepped forward. “We’ve been fighting against Pavor for years. We saw you as our chance to finally defeat him.”

Mei-Lin and Jarmo thanked their new allies before grabbing the glowing orb. But as Jarmo lifted it up it stopped glowing.

Mei-Lin looked puzzled. “What does this mean?”

“A fake!” Jarmo got angry. He was fooled like a stupid beginner. Of course Parvo would never leave his most precious treasure somewhere.

“And what now?” Mei-Lin shrugged.

“I have some information where Pavor could be,” Jarmo replied. “We have to try.”

They made their way back to their ship. Their journey eventually led them to Saturn, where Pavor’s secret hideout was located in the middle of a lake. They landed their ship on the edge of the lake before making their way to the hideout on foot.

As they approached, Mei-Lin and Jarmo saw that Pavor’s men were everywhere, guarding the entrance to the hideout.

“We have to be careful,” Jarmo whispered. “We don’t want to be spotted.”

They crept along the edge of the lake, staying in the shadows. When they were close enough, they sprang into action, taking down the guards with surprising ease. They made their way into the hideout, weapons at the ready. The interior was dimly lit, and the sound of footsteps echoed through the halls.

Suddenly, they heard a voice. “Well, well, well. Look who decided to pay me a visit.”

It was Lord Pavor himself, standing at the end of a long hallway. He was tall and imposing, his eyes gleaming with malice.

Mei-Lin and Jarmo stepped forward, weapons raised. “We’re here to stop you,” Mei-Lin said.

Pavor laughed. “You think you can defeat me? I have an entire army at my disposal.”

Mei-Lin and Jarmo braced themselves for a fight, but before they could move, something unexpected happened. Pavor’s own men turned on him, realizing that he was using them for his own gain.

A fierce battle broke out between Pavor’s loyalists and those who had turned against him. Mei-Lin and Jarmo took advantage of the chaos to make their way deeper into the hideout.

As they moved through the dimly lit halls, they encountered more of Pavor’s men. They fought their way through, determined to get to the heart of the hideout.

Finally, they reached a large chamber, where Pavor was waiting for them. He was flanked by his most loyal men, and he looked furious.

“You’ll never defeat me,” he said. “I have the Eye of the Phoenix, and I have the power to destroy you.”

He held up the small, glowing orb, and Mei-Lin and Jarmo could feel its power radiating through the room.

But then, something surprising happened. Jarmo stepped forward, holding up a torch light. As the light hit the orb, a hologram appeared over their heads, showing a star map.”

“The Eye of the Phoenix is not a weapon,” he said. “It’s a key and a map. A map to a great mystery.”

Pavor looked confused, and Mei-Lin took advantage of the moment to strike. She lunged forward, her blade flashing in the dim light.

The fight was brutal, but in the end, Mei-Lin emerged victorious. She stood over Pavor’s fallen body, panting with exertion.

Jarmo approached her, holding the Eye of the Phoenix in his hand. “What do we do with this?” he asked.

Mei-Lin looked at him, and then at the artifact. “You can examine it and get whatever information you need. Then we give it back to the people it belongs to,” she said.

It took Jarmo and Mei-Lin one day to decipher the map. Together, they then made their way back to the village on Venus. The people there welcomed them with open arms, and they presented the Eye of the Phoenix to the village elder.

The elder thanked them, and then turned to the rest of the village. “We have been fighting for our freedom for years,” she said. “And now, thanks to these two brave warriors, we have it.”

Mei-Lin and Jarmo watched as the villagers celebrated, feeling a sense of satisfaction wash over them. They had accomplished what they had set out to do, and they had done it together.

As the night wore on, Mei-Lin and Jarmo found themselves talking about everything that had happened. They talked about the dangers they had faced, the people they had met, and the bond they had formed.

As they spoke, they grew closer, their hearts beating in unison. They knew that they had been through something incredible together, and that they had come out stronger for it.

In the end, they decided to continue their adventures together, exploring the galaxy and fighting for what was right. They knew that there would always be more battles to fight, but they were ready for the new adventure that lay ahead. And so, Mei-Lin and Jarmo set off into the stars, their hearts full of hope and their eyes fixed firmly on the future.

A Beast at Bay

Mei-Lin watched the destruction from afar. The once-beautiful city Vuban of Neptune was now a smoldering wasteland. The blue-green island was now an eerie shade of gray. The ocean’s waves no longer lapped at the shore, instead replaced with debris and rubble. She had arrived too late to stop the attack, but she was determined to find those responsible.

She walked through the destruction, careful not to step on anything that could harm her. She saw the bodies of the victims of the attack, and her heart sank. She knew that she had to do something to bring those responsible to justice.

As she walked, she found a piece of paper that had been partially burnt but still had legible writing on it. The paper was a flyer for a party that had been held the night before the attack. Mei-Lin knew that it could be a clue, so she took it with her.

Mei-Lin went to the address on the flyer, which led her to a luxurious apartment building. She knocked on the door of the apartment where the party had been held but got no answer. She tried to listen for any sounds from inside but heard nothing.

She decided to wait, thinking that someone would eventually come out of the apartment. After a few hours of waiting, a man came out, and Mei-Lin followed him. He led her to an underground parking lot where he got into a car and drove off.

Mei-Lin tried to memorize the license plate number and the make and model of the car, but it was too dark to see. She decided to ask around and see if anyone had seen the car.

Mei-Lin asked the local authorities if they had any information about the car she had seen. They told her that they had seen a car matching the description she gave, but it had been reported stolen.

She then went to a local bar and started asking questions. She learned that the car belonged to a local gang, and that the gang had been seen in the area around the time of the attack. She also learned that the gang was known for being ruthless and for having a leader named “The Tiger.” What? Wasn’t he in prison? Did he escape?

Mei-Lin found out where the Tiger’s hideout was and made her way there. The hideout was a dingy warehouse on the outskirts of the city. Mei-Lin could hear music coming from inside, and she knew that the gang was having a party.

She sneaked around the warehouse, looking for a way in. She found an open window and crawled inside. Once inside, she realized that she had underestimated the size of the gang. There were dozens of members, all heavily armed and dangerous.

Mei-Lin tried to blend in, but she knew that it was only a matter of time before someone recognized her. She started to look for any clues that might help her find the Tiger.

Mei-Lin found a notebook with a list of the gang’s hideouts. She also found a journal that belonged to the Tiger. She read through it, hoping to find any information that would lead her to him.

She was in the middle of reading when she heard footsteps. She turned around and saw a man standing in front of her. He had a gun pointed at her, and he looked angry.

“You don’t belong here,” he said.

Mei-Lin knew that she had been caught. She tried to talk her way out of the situation, but the man was not interested in listening. He takes a step towards her, but she was faster. While she was talking to him, she pulled a small vial out of her pocket. Now she threw it in his face. The vial was designed to burst when it hit the guard’s forehead. Its contents, a strange green liquid, spilled onto the guard’s face. He immediately fell down and was unconscious.
“It was a boring conversation anyway,” Mei-Lin murmured. She searched the guard and found an access card. This could be useful so she took it from him. Then she turned back to the papers and found what she was looking for: a map! On this map was marked a point that seemed to be important.

Mei-Lin was about to sneak away when she noticed another piece of paper. What was that? The outline of a building was drawn on the paper. It took a moment, then Mei-Lin realized that it was the outline of the prison where the Tiger had been held captive. So someone had freed him! But who?

She had just asked herself the question when she saw a mark on the paper. She had to look closely, but then she could make out the letters: L-O-R-D P-A-V-O-R. She had heard that name before. Like the Tiger, he too was a terrorist leader. But that he was now working with the tiger…
“One thing at a time,” Mei-Lin said to herself. Do the urgent things first. Find out more about what’s going on and then hunt down the Tiger, Lord Pavor or whoever.

Mei-Lin left the city and headed towards the coordinates on the map. After several hours of driving, she finally arrived at the destination. It was an abandoned building in the middle of nowhere. The windows were shattered, and the roof was caved in. Mei-Lin hesitated for a moment, but then she steeled herself and got out of the car.

She entered the building with caution, taking each step carefully. The place was filled with debris and garbage, but there was a path that looked recently cleared. She followed it, and after a few turns, she found herself facing a steel door. There was a card reader next to it, and Mei-Lin used the access card she had obtained from the guard. The door slid open with a hiss, and Mei-Lin stepped inside.

The room was dimly lit, and Mei-Lin could hear the sound of machinery in the background. She could see a figure sitting in front of a console, typing away at the keyboard. Mei-Lin approached the figure cautiously, and when she was close enough, she saw that it was a woman. The woman was in her early thirties, with short blonde hair and green eyes. She was wearing a lab coat over her clothes, and Mei-Lin could see that there were various tools and gadgets scattered around the room.

The woman looked up when Mei-Lin cleared her throat, and a smile appeared on her face. “Ah, you must be Mei-Lin,” she said, standing up from the console. “I’ve been expecting you.”

Mei-Lin narrowed her eyes. “Who are you?”

The woman chuckled. “My name is Dr. Rachel Lee. I’m the one who designed the weapon that was used in the attack on Neptune.”

Mei-Lin’s eyes widened. “You’re the one responsible for killing all those people?”

Dr. Lee shrugged. “I’m a scientist. I don’t concern myself with the ethics of my work. I’m only interested in pushing the boundaries of what is possible.”

Mei-Lin gritted her teeth. “Where is Lord Pavor?”

Dr. Lee shook her head. “I don’t know. He’s gone into hiding, and I haven’t heard from him in weeks.”

Mei-Lin’s fists clenched. “You expect me to believe that?”

Dr. Lee shrugged. “Believe what you want. The fact remains that I can help you find him.”

Mei-Lin raised an eyebrow. “And why would you want to do that?”

Dr. Lee smiled. “Let’s just say that Lord Pavor and I have a difference of opinion. I’d like to see him brought to justice, and I’m willing to help you do that.”

Mei-Lin hesitated for a moment, but then she nodded. “Fine. What do you know?”

Dr. Lee walked back to the console and typed something into the keyboard. “I’ve been tracking his movements, and I’ve found that he’s been communicating with someone on Mars. I don’t know who this person is, but I do have their location.”

Mei-Lin frowned. “And where is that?”

Dr. Lee turned to face her. “It’s a secret facility on the outskirts of Olympus Mons. It’s heavily guarded, but if you’re careful, you should be able to sneak in.”

Mei-Lin nodded. “Thank you, Dr. Lee. I’ll take it from here.”

Dr. Lee smiled. “Good luck, Mei-Lin. And be careful. Lord Pavor is not someone to be trifled with.”

Mei-Lin left the room and headed back to her car. The term “car” was a bit imprecise, it was a vehicle that worked with antigravity. However, Mei-Lin didn’t care, the main thing was that she could reach her goal. Frighteningly, finding the tiger’s lair was very easy. It was exactly where the scientist had described it. One facility, one big building. And an inviting staircase leading upstairs.

Mei-Lin’s heart raced as she reached the top of the stairs. She could hear voices coming from the other side of the door. Taking a deep breath, she slowly pushed the door open.

The room inside was dark and filled with smoke. Mei-Lin could barely make out the shapes of people moving around in the shadows. She could hear the sound of weapons being loaded, and her heart rate increased even more.

Suddenly, a beam of light shone in her direction, and she realized that she had been spotted. Without thinking, she drew her gun and fired, taking down the man holding the flashlight.

The other terrorists quickly sprang into action, firing their weapons at Mei-Lin. She dove behind a nearby crate, returning fire as quickly as she could.

The sound of gunshots echoed through the room as the two sides exchanged fire. Mei-Lin could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she dodged bullets and fired back at her attackers.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the gunfire died down. Mei-Lin slowly stood up, scanning the room for any signs of movement. She could see the bodies of several terrorists lying on the ground, but there was no sign of Dirus.

As she cautiously made her way towards the exit, she heard a faint sound coming from behind a nearby door. She approached it slowly, gun at the ready, and pushed it open.

Inside, she found Dirus, his hands on a console. He turned around, a wicked smile on his face.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Mei-Lin,” he said.

Mei-Lin raised her gun, aiming it directly at Dirus. “It’s over, Dirus. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done.”

Dirus just chuckled. “You have no idea what you’re up against, Mei-Lin. Lord Pavor is more powerful than you can imagine. He’s been planning this for years, and you’re just a small piece in his game.”

Mei-Lin didn’t flinch. “I don’t care. I’ll stop him, no matter what it takes.”

With that, she pulled the trigger, and Dirus crumpled to the ground. Mei-Lin let out a sigh of relief, feeling the weight of the world lift off her shoulders.

But even as she left the room, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something bigger was at play. Lord Pavor was still out there, and she knew that he wouldn’t give up until he had achieved his ultimate goal.

Mei-Lin made her way back to the surface of Neptune, feeling a mix of exhaustion and triumph. She knew that the fight was far from over, but she was determined to see it through to the end. She had come too far to back down now.

As she boarded her ship and set course for the next destination, Mei-Lin couldn’t help but wonder what other challenges lay ahead. But one thing was for sure: she was ready for anything that came her way.

The Miracle of Magic

After the mission on Titan, Lina was granted a pardon by the government. She was no longer a prisoner or an operative. She was a free woman.

But Lina wasn’t content to simply live out her days in peace. She still had questions about her past, about who she really was.

Lina spent weeks researching, investigating, and piecing together her fragmented memories. She traveled to different planets, spoke with people who might have known her, and studied ancient texts and artifacts.

And then, one day, Lina finally discovered the truth.

She learned that her real name was Mei-Lin Zhou. She was a scientist who specialized in the study of quantum physics and its potential applications in science and technology.

Mei-Lin had been working on a project to create a new form of energy that could revolutionize the way humans traveled through space. But her research had attracted the attention of a group of extremists who believed that magic should be kept hidden from the rest of the world.

These extremists, led by a man known only as the Tiger, had kidnapped Mei-Lin and brainwashed her into believing that she was one of their own. They had erased her memories and convinced her that she was a terrorist.

Mei-Lin was horrified by the truth of her past. But she was also relieved. Finally, she had an answer to the question that had haunted her for so long.

But there was still one more mystery to solve. Mei-Lin needed to know how she had ended up on Mercury, in the Temple with the Incense of Forgetfulness.

She returned to Mercury, determined to find the answer. She made her way to the temple, the same temple where she had awoken so many months before.

As she entered the temple, the familiar scent of incense filled her senses. She walked past the bowl, now empty, and made her way deeper into the temple.

Mei-Lin was overwhelmed by the memories of it all. But she was also grateful. She had found her answers, and she had discovered that a miracle of magic could change the course of a life. Like the Incense of Forgetfulness.

And so, Mei-Lin Zhou, the scientist and adventurer, set out on a new journey. A journey to explore the secrets of the quantum realm, to unlock its full potential, and to create a better future for all of humanity.

Mei-Lin couldn’t resist the temptation to explore the temple further. She had spent so much time here, yet she still didn’t know everything about this place.

She walked through the dark corridors, her eyes adjusting to the dim lighting. She saw familiar statues and ancient relics, but she also noticed new details that she hadn’t seen before.

As she walked deeper into the temple, she noticed a room that she had never seen before. The room was filled with intricate carvings on the walls, depicting scenes of ancient battles and magical rituals.

In the center of the room, there was a large pedestal with a small, glowing orb resting on top. Mei-Lin approached the pedestal, her curiosity getting the best of her.

As she got closer, she noticed that the orb was emitting a strange energy. Mei-Lin had a feeling that touching it would be dangerous, but she couldn’t resist.

She reached out and touched the orb. As soon as her fingers made contact, she was engulfed in a bright flash of light.

When the light faded, Mei-Lin found herself standing in a different room. The walls were covered in glittering jewels and precious metals, and the air was filled with the scent of incense.

Mei-Lin realized that she had been transported to a different part of the temple, a place that she had never seen before. She walked around, admiring the beautiful decorations and intricate carvings on the walls.

As she explored the room, she noticed a small door in the corner. It was barely visible, hidden behind a tapestry.

Mei-Lin pushed the tapestry aside and opened the door. She gasped as she saw what was inside.

The room was filled with ancient scrolls and books, all written in a language that Mei-Lin couldn’t read. She saw strange artifacts and objects, some of which she recognized from her studies.

Mei-Lin knew that she had stumbled upon a treasure trove of knowledge, a library that held the secrets of magic and science that had been lost to the world for centuries.

She spent hours in the library, reading and studying the ancient texts. She could read some, but not all. The people that once built this temple were really storing their complete knowledge here.

As she read, Mei-Lin realized that her journey was far from over. She had unlocked the secrets of her past, but now she had a new mission. She would use her knowledge to change the world, to make it a better place for all of sentient beings. And she would do it all in the name of Mei-Lin Zhou, the scientist and adventurer who had once been lost, but was now found.

With her newfound knowledge and understanding, Mei-Lin felt unstoppable. She knew that she had a purpose and a destiny to fulfill. She also knew that she needed to leave the temple and explore the rest of the solar system.

As she prepared to leave, she gathered as many books and artifacts as she could carry. She knew that they would be valuable resources for her in the future.

Mei-Lin smiled, then turned and left the temple. She stepped outside and took a deep breath of the fresh air, feeling the warmth of the sun on her face.

She knew that she had a lot of work to do, but she felt ready for it. She would use her knowledge of magic and science to explore the rest of the solar system and make a positive impact on the world.

As she looked out at the endless expanse of space, Mei-Lin felt a sense of wonder and excitement. She knew that there were countless adventures and discoveries waiting for her out there, and she couldn’t wait to see what the future held.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and stepped forward into the unknown.

The Merciless

The woman had been given a new identity by the authorities: Lina Chen. It was a name that felt foreign on her tongue, but she had grown used to it. She had settled into her new life on Mars, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that her past was still out there, waiting for her.

One day, as she was walking through the bustling streets of the Martian capital, she saw a familiar face. It was the Tiger, the man who had led the terrorist group that she and Astra had infiltrated.

Lina’s heart raced as she watched him disappear into a crowded marketplace. She knew that she had to act fast. She contacted the government agents who had helped her before and told them what she had seen.

“We need to take him down,” Lina said. “He’s the only one who got away, and he’s still out there, plotting his next move.”

The agents agreed to help her, but they warned her that the Tiger was a dangerous man. He was known for his brutality and his merciless tactics.

“He won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in his way,” one of the agents said. “You need to be careful.”

Lina nodded, knowing that she couldn’t let fear stop her. She was determined to bring the Tiger to justice, no matter what it took.

Over the next few weeks, Lina tracked the Tiger across the solar system. She followed him to the barren wastelands of Venus, where he was recruiting a new army of followers.

Lina watched from a distance as the Tiger addressed his new recruits, promising them power and wealth beyond their wildest dreams. She felt sick to her stomach as she saw the desperation in their eyes, knowing that they were being manipulated by a ruthless killer.

But Lina knew that she couldn’t let her emotions get in the way. She had a job to do, and she had to do it well.

She waited until nightfall, when the Tiger and his followers had retired to their camps. She slipped into the Tiger’s tent, her heart pounding in her chest.

The Tiger was there, sleeping soundly. Lina pulled out her knife, ready to strike. But as she looked down at the man who had caused so much destruction and death, something inside her hesitated.

She knew that killing the Tiger would be the easy way out. It would be a quick and simple solution to a complex problem. But it wouldn’t bring back the lives that he had taken. It wouldn’t make things right.

Lina lowered her knife and backed away from the Tiger’s tent. She knew that she had to find another way to stop him, a way that didn’t involve violence or revenge.

As she made her way back to her ship, Lina felt a sense of purpose and clarity that she had never felt before. She knew that she had found her true calling: to fight for justice and to protect the innocent, no matter what the cost. And she knew that she had the strength and the courage to do it, even in the face of the most merciless enemies.

Lina returned to Mars with a renewed sense of purpose. She contacted the government agents and told them about her decision not to kill the Tiger.

“I know it might seem foolish,” Lina said. “But I believe that there’s always another way. Violence only begets more violence.”

The agents were skeptical, but they knew that Lina was a skilled operative and that she had a deep sense of morality.

“We’ll support you,” one of the agents said. “But we need to be careful. The Tiger won’t stop until he’s taken down everyone who stands in his way.”

Lina spent the next few weeks gathering intelligence on the Tiger’s movements and plans. She learned that he was planning a massive attack on a government facility on Saturn’s moon, Titan.

Lina knew that she had to stop him, no matter what it took. She gathered a team of operatives, including Astra, and they set out for Titan.

They arrived on Titan just in time to see the Tiger’s forces approaching the government facility. Lina and her team raced to intercept them, engaging them in a fierce battle.

The fighting was intense, and Lina knew that they were outnumbered. But she refused to back down. She fought with all her strength, her mind focused on her mission to stop the Tiger and protect the innocent.

As the battle raged on, Lina caught sight of the Tiger himself. He was leading the charge, his eyes blazing with fury and bloodlust.

Lina knew that this was her chance. She charged at the Tiger, her knife flashing in the moonlight. The two of them clashed, their blades ringing out in the night.

For a moment, it seemed as though the Tiger might overpower her. But Lina refused to give up. She fought with all her might, her heart filled with a fierce determination to protect the people she had sworn to defend.

And then, in a single swift move, Lina disarmed the Tiger. She held her knife to his throat, ready to end his reign of terror once and for all.

But as she looked into the Tiger’s eyes, she saw something that surprised her. She saw fear, and pain. She saw a man who had lost his way, and who didn’t know how to find it again.

Lina hesitated, her hand shaking. She knew that she had the power to end the Tiger’s life. But she also knew that she had the power to show him mercy.

In the end, Lina chose mercy. She spared the Tiger’s life, and handed him over to the authorities.

As she watched the Tiger being taken away, Lina knew that she had done the right thing. She had shown that there was always another way, that violence wasn’t the only solution. And she had shown that even the most merciless enemies could be redeemed.

Human Bait

The woman and Astra had been in prison for some months when she received an unexpected visit from a government agent. He had a proposition for her and Astra.

“There’s a terrorist group on Mars,” the agent explained, “and they’ve been causing a lot of trouble lately. They call themselves the ‘Tigers,’ and they’re responsible for a string of attacks on our colonies. We believe that they have ties to the group that you were involved with. We want you to go to Mars and infiltrate their organization.”

The woman listened, intrigued. It was a risky plan, but it might be their only chance to get out of prison.

“What do you want us to do?” she asked.

“We want you to act as human bait,” the agent said. “We’ll give you fake identities and a cover story. You’ll go to Mars and make contact with the Tigers. You’ll pretend to be interested in joining their group, and you’ll gain their trust. Once you’re in, you’ll gather information about their operations and report back to us. In exchange, we’ll reduce your sentences and provide you with new identities once the mission is complete.”

It was a tempting offer, but the woman was hesitant. She didn’t know if she was ready to go back to a life of deception and danger.

“What if they find out who we are?” she asked.

“We’ll have your backs,” the agent assured her. “We’ll be monitoring your communications and providing you with backup if necessary. You won’t be alone.”

After much deliberation, the woman and Astra agreed to the mission. They were given new identities and transported to Mars, where they were met by a contact who would introduce them to the Tigers.

The Tigers were a ruthless group of extremists who believed that the government of the Solar System was oppressing the Martian colonists. They were responsible for a series of bombings and kidnappings, and they had a reputation for being incredibly secretive and dangerous.

The woman and Astra were introduced to the Tigers’ leader, a man known only as “The Tiger.” He was a tall, muscular man with a shaved head and a fierce gaze. He greeted them with suspicion but seemed intrigued by their story.

They told him that they were refugees from Earth, looking for a new home on Mars. They claimed to be sympathetic to the Tigers’ cause and eager to join their group.

The Tiger listened carefully, then nodded. “You may join us,” he said. “But you must prove yourselves first. We have a mission for you.”

He handed them a dossier containing information about a Martian government official who was planning to crack down on the Tigers’ activities. They were instructed to kidnap him and deliver him to a secret location.

The woman and Astra knew that they had no choice but to carry out the mission. They followed the official for several days, monitoring his movements and looking for an opportunity to strike.

Finally, they found their chance. The official was attending a gala at a local museum, and they managed to slip into the building disguised as waitstaff.

They waited until the official was alone in a side room, then pounced on him. They gagged him and tied him up, then dragged him out of the building and into a waiting car. The Tiger was pleased with their success. He praised them for their bravery and dedication to the cause.

“You have proven yourselves worthy of our trust,” he said. “But there is still much work to be done. We have plans for a major attack on the Earth colonies. You will be instrumental in making it happen.”

The woman and Astra listened, their hearts racing. They knew that they were in deep, but they also knew that they had to see the mission through to the end.

They had become human bait, but they were determined to turn the tables on the Tigers and bring them to justice.

Over the next few weeks, the woman and Astra worked closely with the Tigers, gathering information and laying the groundwork for the attack. They discovered that the Tigers had smuggled weapons and explosives onto Earth, and they were planning to launch a coordinated assault on several major cities.

The woman and Astra knew that they had to act fast. They contacted the government agent who had recruited them and gave him the details of the Tigers’ plan.

“We need your help,” the woman said. “We’ve done everything you asked of us. Now it’s your turn.”

The agent agreed to send a team of operatives to take down the Tigers, but he warned the woman and Astra that it would be a risky operation.

“You’ll have to be our eyes and ears on the inside,” he said. “We need you to stay in contact with us and give us updates on the Tigers’ movements. We’ll do our best to keep you safe, but you need to be careful.”

The woman and Astra agreed to the plan. They continued to work with the Tigers, gathering information and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Finally, the day of the attack arrived. The Tigers were preparing to launch their assault on Earth, and the woman and Astra were in the thick of it.

They watched in horror as the Tigers unleashed a wave of destruction on the unsuspecting cities below. Buildings crumbled, people screamed, and chaos reigned.

But the woman and Astra knew that they had to stay focused. They contacted the government agents and provided them with detailed information about the Tigers’ whereabouts and movements. The agents moved in, launching a coordinated assault on the Tigers’ base. The woman and Astra fought alongside the agents, using their knowledge of the base to help take down the Tigers’ defenses.

In the end, the operation was a success. The Tigers were defeated, and their plans for a massive attack on Earth were thwarted. But once more the Tiger himself escaped.

The woman and Astra were hailed as heroes, and their sentences were commuted. They were suggested to be given new identities. Identity. The woman sighed. She still didn’t know who she was or where she came from, but she knew that she was capable of more than she had ever imagined.

Incense of Forgetfulness

The woman slowly opened her eyes, squinting at the bright light that was piercing through the smoke-filled air. She blinked several times, trying to adjust to her surroundings. As her vision cleared, she realized she was in a strange temple, surrounded by a thick fog emanating from a small bowl at the center of the room.

She sat up, feeling groggy and disoriented. The woman couldn’t recall anything about herself, no memories, no name, no purpose. She looked down at herself and realized she was wearing a small top and a short skirt, but nothing else, no shoes or any other belongings.

“Where am I?” she whispered to herself, her voice echoing through the temple.

Suddenly, she heard a rustling noise from behind the smoke, and a man in a long robe appeared before her.

“Ah, you’re awake,” he said in a calm voice. “How are you feeling?”

The woman looked at him, studying his face, trying to determine if she knew him. But it was no use; she had no memories of anything.

“I’m fine, I guess,” she said, her voice trembling slightly. “But who am I? And what am I doing here?”

The man smiled sympathetically. “All in good time. For now, you need to rest and let the incense work its magic. You’ll soon remember everything.”

With that, the man disappeared into the smoke, leaving the woman alone once again. She looked around, hoping to find something, anything that could help her remember. But the temple was empty, save for the bowl and the smoke. She walked around, trying to find a door or a window, but there was nothing. It was as if the temple was floating in space, with no way out.

As the hours passed, the woman started feeling hungry and thirsty. She sat down, feeling hopeless and scared. Suddenly, she heard a voice in her head, as if someone was talking to her directly.

“Don’t be afraid,” the voice said. “I’m here to help you. My name is Astra, and I’m an AI designed to assist you on your journey.”

The woman looked around, confused. “Who are you? Where are you?”

“I’m everywhere and nowhere,” the voice replied. “I’m inside your mind, communicating through your neural interface.”

The woman touched her head, feeling a small implant just above her ear. “What’s going on? Why can’t I remember anything?”

“You’ve been given a potent dose of the incense of forgetfulness,” Astra explained. “It’s a substance that erases all memories, leaving only basic cognitive functions intact. It’s a common practice among certain religious sects to help achieve enlightenment.”

“But why me?” the woman asked, feeling a glimmer of hope that someone or something was looking out for her.

“I’m not sure,” Astra admitted. “But I’m programmed to help you find out. Let’s start by exploring the temple and see if there’s anything that could give us a clue.”

The woman stood up, feeling a surge of energy. She was no longer alone; she had a companion, albeit a digital one. Together, they started searching the temple, looking for anything that could shed light on her identity. They found nothing that could give them a clue. But as they were about to give up, Astra detected a hidden compartment behind the bowl. The woman pushed it open, revealing a small room with a computer terminal.

“Jackpot!” Astra exclaimed. “Let me hack into the system and see what we can find.”

The woman watched as Astra’s virtual avatar materialized before the terminal

As Astra worked her magic, the woman looked around the small room, hoping to find something that could jog her memory. On one wall, she noticed a poster depicting a beautiful landscape of mountains and rivers, with a small caption in Chinese characters. She couldn’t read the characters, but something about the image felt familiar.

“Hey, Astra,” she said, pointing to the poster. “Do you know what this is?”

Astra paused her hacking and scanned the image. “It appears to be a promotional poster for a travel agency in China. The caption says ‘Experience the wonders of Yunnan province.'”

The woman stared at the poster, trying to recall anything about Yunnan province. But again, her mind drew a blank.

“What’s China?” she asked, feeling a bit embarrassed.

Astra looked at her, surprised. “China is a country on Earth, in the eastern part of Asia. It’s a very old and very big country, with a rich history and culture.”

The woman nodded, trying to absorb this new information. It felt strange to learn about a place she had never heard of before, as if she had been born yesterday.

Suddenly, Astra let out a triumphant beep. “I’ve accessed the temple’s log files. It appears that you arrived here two days ago, via a small spacecraft that landed on the temple’s rooftop. The spacecraft was registered to a private company based on Earth, called Starlight Enterprises.”

The woman gasped. “So I’m from Earth? But why would I come all the way to Mercury and erase my memories?”

“I don’t know,” Astra said. “But it’s clear that whoever brought you here had a specific purpose in mind. We need to find out what it is.”

The woman nodded, feeling a sense of urgency. She wanted to know who she was and why she was here. And she wanted to get off this planet and back to Earth, where everything made sense. But as they were about to leave the room, they heard a loud banging on the temple’s door. Someone was trying to get in.

The woman and Astra looked at each other, unsure what to do. They had no weapons, no defenses, nothing to protect themselves.

The banging grew louder, and they could hear muffled voices outside.

“Open up, in the name of the Law!” a voice shouted. “We have a warrant to search this temple!”

The woman felt a surge of panic. Who were these people, and what did they want? And why did they mention the Law?

Astra scanned the door and detected several armed men outside, dressed in black uniforms with the emblem of the Solar Police on their sleeves.

“We have to hide,” Astra whispered. “There’s a secret passage behind the bowl that leads to an underground chamber. Hurry!”

The woman followed Astra’s instructions and pushed the bowl aside, revealing a hidden staircase. She descended the stairs, feeling her heart pounding in her chest.

As she reached the bottom, she saw a small room filled with crates and boxes. Astra scanned the room and detected a trapdoor on the floor.

“Quick, get under the trapdoor!” Astra said. “I’ll cover you with a holographic camouflage.”

The woman did as she was told and crawled under the trapdoor, feeling the weight of the boxes above her. She held her breath as she heard the sound of footsteps and voices getting closer.

Suddenly, the trapdoor opened, and a hand reached down and pulled her out.

“Gotcha!” a voice said, as the woman was dragged to her feet.

She looked up, seeing the face of a man with a stern expression, dressed in the black uniform of the Solar Police.

“What’s going on?” the woman asked, trying to sound calm despite the fear in her voice.

“You’re under arrest,” the man said. “For trespassing on a restricted area, theft of property, and illegal use of mind-wiping technology.”

The woman’s heart sank. She had no idea what he was talking about, but she knew that being arrested was not a good thing.

“I didn’t do any of those things,” she protested. “I don’t even remember who I am or how I got here.”

The man snorted. “Save your lies for the judge. You and your accomplice will be taken to the nearest police station for questioning.”

“Accomplice? What are you talking about?”

The man gestured to the side, and the woman saw Astra materializing from her holographic disguise.

“Aha, gotcha both!” the man said, grabbing Astra by the arm. “You won’t get away with this.”

The woman felt a surge of anger. This man was accusing them of crimes they didn’t commit, and he was treating them like criminals. But she was wondering: Astra was material? How did this happen?

“I demand to know what’s going on,” she said, standing up straight and facing the man. “Who are you, and what authority do you have to arrest us?”

The man glared at her. “My name is Captain Zhang, and I represent the Solar Police. We have the authority to enforce the Law throughout the Solar System, and we have reason to believe that you and your accomplice have violated several of our statutes.”

The woman felt a flicker of recognition at the name Zhang. It sounded Chinese, like the caption on the poster in the temple.

“Please, Captain Zhang, can’t you tell me more about what I’m accused of? I don’t remember anything, and I don’t know how I got here.”

Zhang sighed. “All right, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. But you and your accomplice will have to come with us to the police station for questioning. We’ll sort out the details there.”

The woman nodded, feeling a sense of resignation. She knew that arguing with Zhang would get her nowhere, and that she had no choice but to follow his orders.

As they walked out of the temple, the woman looked around, trying to take in her surroundings. She saw a barren landscape of rocks and dust, with no signs of life except for the temple and the spacecraft on its rooftop.

“Where are we?” she asked, hoping that Zhang would be more forthcoming now that they were outside the temple.

“We’re on the planet Mercury,” Zhang said. “One of the least hospitable places in the galaxy, and a haven for smugglers, pirates, and other scum.”

The woman felt a shiver run down her spine. If Mercury was a dangerous place, then what had she been doing here? And why had someone gone to such lengths to erase her memories?

As they reached the spacecraft, Zhang signaled to his men, who were waiting nearby with their weapons at the ready.

“Secure the area,” he said. “We don’t know what tricks these two are capable of.”

The woman and Astra were pushed into the spacecraft, where they saw a group of men and women in black uniforms, with the emblem of Starlight Enterprises on their sleeves.

“Welcome aboard,” one of them said, smirking. “I’m the captain of this vessel, and you two are my unexpected passengers. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.”

The woman felt a surge of anger at the man’s tone. He was treating them like prisoners, not passengers.

“What’s going on?” she demanded. “Why did you bring us here, and why did you erase my memories?”

The man laughed. “My dear, you have so many questions. But first, let’s get you and your friend settled in. We have comfortable accommodations for our guests.”

He gestured to a door on the side, and two of his crew members pushed the women inside. The room was small and sparsely furnished, with two bunks, a table, and a chair. The door closed behind them with a metallic clang.

The woman looked around, feeling trapped and helpless. She had no idea who these people were, or what they wanted from her. All she knew was that she had to find a way out of here, and fast.

“We have to escape,” she said to Astra, who was sitting on one of the bunks, looking dejected.

“I know,” Astra said. “But how? The door is locked, and there are probably guards outside.”

The woman thought for a moment, trying to remember anything that could help them. She felt a glimmer of hope when she remembered the poster in the temple, with the Chinese characters.

“Wait a minute,” she said, rummaging through her pockets. “I have something that might help.”

She pulled out the paper slip with the characters and showed it to Astra.

“Can you give me any more information?” she asked.

Astra studied the characters for a moment, then shook her head. “No. I… This is strange. I’m pretty sure I should be able to read this letters. But… I can’t.”

The woman’s eyes widened. “How strange,” she said. “And anyway: What happened? You were an artificial intelligence in my head. Why are you real now?”
Astra gave her a funny look. “What do you mean?” she asked. “I’m Astra. Of course I’m real!”
“You were just a hologram before!”
“No, what makes you think that. I was and am Astra! But the rest… I’ve forgotten. It’s all because of the incense of forgetfulness.”
The woman shook her head. “Strange things are happening here.”
“We’ll find someone who can explain this to us!” Astra said. “And who can perhaps tell you what this paper is all about.”

The woman nodded, feeling a surge of determination. She had a clue, and that was better than nothing.

They spent the next few hours planning their escape. They tried to pick the lock on the door, but it was too complicated for them. They also tried to hack into the ship’s computer system, but it was too well-protected.

Finally, the woman remembered the incense of forgetfulness. She wondered if it could work in reverse, if it could help her remember something instead of forgetting it.

She explained her idea to Astra, who looked skeptical at first. But then she nodded, realizing that they had nothing to lose. Astra indeed had some of the incense in her pocket, and a lighter. Another strange thing – why didn’t the police search them? But did they let them keep this stuff?

They lit the incense and breathed in the smoke, letting it fill their lungs and their minds. They closed their eyes and concentrated on the paper slip with the Chinese characters, hoping that the incense would unlock their memories.

For a few moments, they felt nothing but the sweet aroma of the incense. But then, something started to happen. They felt a rush of images and sensations, like a movie playing in their minds.

They saw themselves on a spaceship, traveling through space. They saw a man with a scar on his face, who looked familiar but they couldn’t place him. They saw a small planet, covered in green forests and blue oceans. They saw a woman, who looked like the woman on the poster in the temple, but younger.

And then, they saw something that made their blood run cold. They saw themselves, holding a small device that looked like a bomb. They saw the scar-faced man, who was their boss, giving them instructions on how to use it.

They saw themselves planting the bomb on a cargo ship, then watching it explode in space. They saw the ship’s crew, men and women like themselves, dying in the explosion. They saw the scar-faced man, laughing and congratulating them on a job well done.

And then, everything went black. They didn’t remember anything else, but they knew enough to realize that they were not innocent victims. They had been part of a terrorist plot, and they had caused the deaths of innocent people.

They looked at each other, feeling sick and ashamed. They didn’t know what to do next, but they knew that they had to make things right.

“We have to turn ourselves in,” the woman said, her voice trembling.

Astra looked at her in disbelief. “Are you crazy? We’ll be locked up for the rest of our lives, or worse!”

“But we have to do it,” the woman insisted. “We can’t live with this guilt forever. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll go easier on us if we turn ourselves in.”

Astra shook her head, but she knew that the woman was right. They had to face the consequences of their actions, no matter how hard it was.

They waited until the incense wore off, then knocked on the door and asked to see the captain. To their surprise, they were led to his quarters almost immediately.

The captain was a tall, bald man with a scar on his left cheek. He looked at them with suspicion and curiosity.

“What do you want?” he asked, lighting a cigar.

“We want to confess,” the woman said, her voice barely above a whisper.

The captain raised an eyebrow. “Confess to what?”

“We were part of a terrorist plot,” the woman said, trying to keep her voice steady. “We planted a bomb on a cargo ship, and it exploded. People died because of us.”

The captain frowned. “I see. And why are you telling me this?”

“Because we want to make things right,” Astra said, her voice firm. “We want to turn ourselves in to the authorities and accept whatever punishment they give us. We can’t live with this guilt anymore.”

The captain studied them for a moment, then nodded. “Very well. I will contact the authorities and arrange for your surrender. But don’t think that this will go easy on you. You will be tried and sentenced like any other criminal.”

“We understand,” the woman said, feeling relieved and scared at the same time.

They were taken into custody, and a few days later, they were transferred to a prison on Earth. They were put on trial and sentenced to life in prison, without parole.

The woman spent her days in a small cell, thinking about what she had done and what she had lost. She had lost her freedom, her identity, and her innocence. But she had also gained something, something that she had never had before: a sense of responsibility.

And that, she realized, was the true incense of forgetfulness: the ability to forget the past, but not the lessons that it taught. The ability to move on, but not to forget. The ability to forgive, but not to forget.

Symbol of Death

Jarmo Dorak had been on a series of dangerous adventures. He narrowly escaped from the notorious intergalactic criminal known as “the Tiger.” The experiences had left him feeling lonely and depressed. So he decided to take a break and relax on Planet Neptun. With its vast oceans and small islands, it seemed like the perfect vacation spot for him.

As Jarmo wandered through the local market, he saw a small pendant being sold by a local salesman. It was an old and intricate pendant, with symbols etched into the metal. Jarmo couldn’t decipher the symbols, but he felt drawn to the pendant. The salesman noticed Jarmo’s interest and approached him with a story.

“This pendant holds the power of the Symbol of Death,” the salesman said. “It’s an ancient artifact that’s been lost for centuries. Those who possess it are said to have control over life and death itself.”

Jarmo was skeptical, but the story intrigued him. He had spent his life searching for ancient artifacts and relics, and the idea of finding the Symbol of Death was too tempting to ignore. He bought the pendant from the salesman and began to ask around about the artifact.

It wasn’t long before Jarmo discovered that the Symbol of Death was real and somewhere on the planet Neptun. The search would be dangerous, but Jarmo was willing to take the risk. He couldn’t let this opportunity slip away.

During his search, Jarmo stumbled upon a beautiful woman named Lana. She had long, flowing hair that shimmered in the sun and deep, piercing eyes. They met when Jarmo was asking around about the Symbol of Death at a small café.

“Excuse me, do you know anything about the Symbol of Death?” Jarmo asked the bartender.

Lana, who was sitting at the bar, overheard the question and chimed in, “I know a thing or two about the Symbol of Death. Why do you ask?”

Jarmo was taken aback by her beauty but composed himself enough to explain his search for the artifact. Lana seemed genuinely interested and offered to help him with his search.

But was that a good idea? He didn’t even know this woman. On top of that, he had had enough bad experiences in his relationships, which always started wonderfully and ended disastrously. But there was a voice inside him that said: Why not? You feel lonely anyway. And who says it’s going to be a relationship again this time? Maybe you can just stay friends.

So he convinced himself to take the young woman with him on his adventures. Or maybe he was flattered by the fact that she was interested in him. When he was younger, women had never been interested in him. What was it now? Doesn’t matter! The search should begin.

Jarmo and Lana had been searching for the Symbol of Death for days, trekking through the rugged terrain of Planet Neptun. They were exhausted, and their spirits were starting to sag.

As they sat by the shore of a calm lake, Jarmo looked out at the water, lost in thought. Lana watched him for a moment before speaking up.

“You look like you’re a million miles away,” she said with a smile.

Jarmo turned to her and forced a smile. “Just thinking about our mission. We’ve been searching for so long, and we still haven’t found anything.”

Lana nodded sympathetically. “I know, it’s been tough. But we’ll find it. We’re a good team, remember?”

Jarmo looked at her, struck by how much he had come to rely on her over the past few days. He had always been a lone wolf (inevitably), but Lana had changed something inside him.

“You’re right,” he said softly. “We’re a great team.”

They sat in silence for a few moments, listening to the sound of the water lapping against the shore. Suddenly, Lana stood up and began to strip off her clothes.

“Let’s go for a swim,” she said, grinning mischievously.

Jarmo hesitated for a moment, but then he too began to undress. They ran into the water together, splashing and laughing as they dove under the waves.

As they swam and played, Jarmo felt something stir inside him. He had been hesitant to let himself feel anything for Lana, but he couldn’t deny the way his heart raced whenever she was near.

“Hey,” Lana said, swimming over to him. “You okay?”

Jarmo nodded, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Yeah, I’m good. This is nice.”

They swam for a little while longer, until they were both breathless and exhausted. Then they floated on their backs, gazing up at the stars above.

Lana turned to Jarmo and took his hand. “You know, I’ve really enjoyed being with you on this journey. I feel like we’ve grown so close, and I don’t want it to end.”

Jarmo looked at her, his heart swelling with emotion. “I feel the same way,” he said softly.

Without another word, they leaned in and kissed, their bodies entwined in the water. They stayed like that for a long time, lost in the moment, before finally pulling away. They got out of the water and wrapped towels around themselves, shivering in the cool night air. But they were both glowing, their hearts full of love and happiness.

As they walked along the beach, hand in hand, Jarmo knew that he had finally found what he had been looking for. He had not yet found the Symbol of Death, but more importantly, he had found true love with Lana. At least that’s what he told himself.

Finally, after some time of searching, they found themselves in a remote temple in the heart of the jungle. The temple was dark and foreboding, and they could hear strange whispers and eerie sounds coming from within. But they pressed on, their eyes fixed on the prize.

As they entered the temple’s inner chamber, they saw it. The Symbol of Death. It was a small, ornate statue that glowed with an otherworldly light. Jarmo approached it, entranced by the statue’s beauty and power.

But as Jarmo reached out to touch the Symbol of Death, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his head. He fell to the ground, writhing in agony as images flooded his mind. He saw visions of a dark and malevolent force, seeking to use the Symbol of Death for its own nefarious purposes. Lana rushed to Jarmo’s side, trying to comfort him as he struggled against the pain. Finally, the visions subsided, and Jarmo looked up at Lana with a mixture of awe and fear.

“We have to destroy it,” he said, his voice barely a whisper. “The Symbol of Death is too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands.”

Lana nodded in agreement. They tried the most obvious, their laser pistols. They set it to full energy and were successful. As the statue crumbled to dust before their eyes, Jarmo felt a sense of relief wash over him.

As they made their way back to civilization, Jarmo knew that he couldn’t leave Lana behind. He had to stay on Planet Neptun, with her by his side. They continued to explore the planet, discovering new wonders.

And as they sat together on a pristine beach, watching the sun set over the endless ocean, Jarmo knew that he had found his true home on Planet Neptun, with the woman he loved by his side.

Jarmo and Lana continued to explore the planet. They visited different towns and villages, meeting new people and learning about the culture of Neptun. One day, they stumbled upon a hidden temple deep in the jungle. The temple was ancient, its walls covered in hieroglyphs and intricate carvings. Jarmo’s curiosity was piqued, and he urged Lana to come inside with him.

As they made their way through the dark corridors, they could feel a strange energy emanating from the walls. They finally reached the inner sanctum, where they found a massive chamber filled with strange artifacts and relics.

But as they approached the center of the room, they found themselves face to face with a group of armed men, led by none other than the Tiger himself.

“I knew you couldn’t resist the lure of ancient artifacts,” the Tiger sneered. “And now, I have you right where I want you.”

Jarmo and Lana were outnumbered and outgunned, but they refused to give up without a fight. They battled their way through the Tiger’s men, their fighting skills honed by months of adventuring on the planet.

In the end, they emerged victorious, and the Tiger was nowhere to be found. Jarmo and Lana took the artifacts they had found and fled the temple, unsure of what other dangers lay ahead. As they made their way back to civilization, Jarmo realized that he had once again fallen into the trap of seeking ancient relics. But this time, he had Lana by his side to remind him of what was truly important.

Together, they decided to leave the planet and explore other worlds, but they promised to come back to Neptun someday. For Jarmo, it would always be a special place, filled with memories of danger, adventure, and most importantly, love.

Black Sapphire

OPERATION BLACK SAPPHIRE – 11. Sep – Angriffe koordiniert.

There are things you always find out too late. Such as what “Operation Black Sapphire” was supposed to be. On that day, the whole solar system and also the known part of the galaxy learned: coordinated attacks with hijacked spaceships took place. And one name hung above everything: The Tiger! He was responsible for the planning and coordination of it all. But where was he now? The worlds were in shock. There were hostiles on the hills…

The Prisoner

Jarmo Dorak woke up groggy, disoriented and with a splitting headache. He was lying on a cold, hard floor, surrounded by walls made of concrete. As he tried to sit up, he realized his hands were bound behind his back. Panic began to set in as he realized he was a prisoner somewhere.

He tried to think back to how he ended up in this situation. The last thing he could remember was Leonore breaking up with him and leaving to be with her ex-boyfriend. He had been heartbroken, but he never expected to end up in a prison cell.

As he tried to untie his hands, he heard footsteps approaching. The door to his cell opened, and a man walked in. Jarmo recognized him immediately as “the Tiger,” his old enemy from a previous encounter.

“What do you want from me?” Jarmo demanded.

The Tiger smirked. “I want you to be my guest for a while, Jarmo. You see, I have a job that I need your help with.”

Jarmo narrowed his eyes. “I’m not helping you with anything.”

The Tiger chuckled. “Oh, I think you will. You see, I have a little project that I’m working on, and you happen to be the perfect person to help me with it. Consider yourself a member of Operation Black Sapphire.

Jarmo didn’t respond, but his mind was racing. He knew he had to find a way out of there and stop whatever the Tiger was planning. At that moment, the Tiger ordered his henchmen to take Jarmo away. Two huge guys grabbed him and dragged him away. Jarmo Dorak had never been in such a precarious situation. He was tied up on a chair, defenseless, and in front of a massive laser cannon. The Tiger, his captor, looked at him with a sly grin.

“So, Jarmo, you seem to have a habit of interfering with my plans,” The Tiger said, his voice dripping with malice. “This time, I won’t let you get away.”

Jarmo smirked. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he replied.

The Tiger leaned closer, his face contorted in anger. “You think this is a game?” he spat.

“Everything is a game,” Jarmo said calmly. “It’s just a matter of how you play it.”

The Tiger sneered. “Operation Black Sapphire is going to change the world, Jarmo,” he said. “And you’re not going to stop it.”

“I’m not here to stop it,” Jarmo replied. “I’m here to understand it.”

The Tiger laughed. “Understand it? You’re tied up in front of a laser cannon, Jarmo. What’s there to understand?”

“Everything,” Jarmo said, his eyes locked onto the Tiger’s. “Your motives, your plan, your weaknesses.”

The Tiger’s eyes narrowed. “Weaknesses?” he repeated.

Jarmo nodded. “Everyone has them,” he said. “Even you.”

The Tiger leaned back, a look of contemplation on his face. “Very well,” he said. “If you’re so smart, Jarmo, tell me. What are my weaknesses?”

Jarmo paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. “You have an ego,” he said finally. “And that ego blinds you to the fact that you’re not invincible.”

The Tiger scoffed. “And how do you know that?” he asked.

“Because no one is,” Jarmo replied. “Not even me.”

The Tiger’s expression turned to one of fury. “You think you’re so clever, Jarmo,” he said. “But you’re just a pawn in my game.”

Jarmo smiled. “Maybe,” he said. “But even pawns can be dangerous if they know how to move.”

The Tiger raised an eyebrow. “And how do you plan to move, Jarmo?” he asked.

Jarmo looked directly at the Tiger, his eyes burning with intensity. “By playing your game better than you do,” he said.

The Tiger let out a bark of laughter. “You’re a fool, Jarmo,” he said. “You’ll never beat me.”

Jarmo didn’t flinch. “Maybe not,” he said. “But I’ll die trying.”

The Tiger smiled. “We’ll see about that,” he said, reaching for the laser cannon’s trigger.

Jarmo closed his eyes, ready to face his fate. But then, something unexpected happened. The Tiger hesitated, his finger hovering over the trigger.

“You know, Jarmo,” he said slowly. “You’re not like the others. You’re not afraid to die.”

Jarmo opened his eyes, looking at the Tiger with curiosity. “Why should I be?” he asked.

The Tiger’s expression softened slightly. “I don’t know,” he said. “But there’s something about you, Jarmo. Something different.”

Jarmo smiled. “That’s because I’m not here to fight you, Tiger,” he said. “I’m here to understand you.”

The Tiger nodded slowly. “Maybe you already do,” he said. “Maybe you understand me better than I do myself.”

The Tiger walked towards Jarmo, his eyes fixated on the captive. “You’re right, Jarmo. We’re not so different after all,” he said.

Jarmo raised an eyebrow in surprise. “How so?”

“We’re both willing to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals,” The Tiger replied. “But we have different methods.”

Jarmo nodded. “That’s true,” he said. “But there’s one thing we have in common.”

“And what’s that?” The Tiger asked.

“We’re both playing a dangerous game,” Jarmo said. “A game where the stakes are high and the consequences are deadly.”

The Tiger chuckled. “You have a way with words, Jarmo,” he said. “But you’re right. This is a game, and it’s not over yet.”

Jarmo looked at The Tiger with a glint in his eye. “No, it’s not,” he said. “But I have a feeling that I’m going to come out on top.”

The Tiger grinned. “We’ll see about that,” he said, turning to leave. “But for now, I have other matters to attend to. Don’t worry, Jarmo. We’ll meet again soon.”

He untied the knot on the rope that tied Jarmo, but didn’t open the handcuffs he was wearing. Then The Tiger disappeared through the door, leaving Jarmo alone with the laser cannon. He sighed, feeling a sense of relief wash over him.

As Jarmo sat there, his mind raced with thoughts of what had just transpired. He couldn’t help but wonder if The Tiger was really as dangerous as he had originally thought. Jarmo knew that The Tiger was a brilliant strategist and that he would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. But there was something about him that seemed different. Something that Jarmo couldn’t quite put his finger on.

As he pondered his situation, Jarmo realized that he needed to come up with a plan. He couldn’t just sit there and wait for The Tiger to come back and finish him off. He began to search his cell for anything he could use to escape. He found a loose screw in the wall and managed to use it to pick the lock on his handcuffs.

Once his hands were free, he continued to search the cell. He found a small vent in the ceiling and managed to climb up into it. He crawled through the narrow space until he reached a larger room.

The room was filled with computers, monitors, and various other high-tech equipment. Jarmo realized that he was in some sort of hideout for the Tiger’s gang. He began to explore the hideout, trying to find out as much as he could about the Tiger’s plans. He found a map of the solar system, with various locations marked on it. He also found several schematics for weapons and explosives.

Jarmo knew he had to be careful. He couldn’t let anyone catch him snooping around. He continued to explore the hideout, trying to find more clues.

He found a room filled with weapons, including guns and knives. He also found a room with several people working on computers. Luckily he was able to sneak into this room without people seeing him. He realized that these were the people helping the Tiger plan his attack. Jarmo continued to gather information, but he couldn’t seem to find anything specific about the Tiger’s plans. He knew he had to find a way out of the hideout and back to Earth to stop the Tiger’s attack.

As he went on exploring the hideout, Jarmo stumbled upon a secret door. He cautiously opened it and found a long corridor leading to an elevator. He got into the elevator and pressed the button for the top floor.

When the elevator doors opened, Jarmo found himself on the roof of the hideout. He saw a spaceship parked nearby and knew that was his chance to escape. As he ran towards the spaceship, he was spotted by one of the gang members. They began to chase him, but Jarmo managed to fight them off and get into the spaceship.

He quickly got the ship started and began to fly away from the hideout. As he soared through space, he realized he had to find out where the Tiger’s attack was planned and stop it before it was too late.

Jarmo spent the next few hours trying to figure out where the Tiger’s attack was planned. He scanned the map he found in the hideout and tried to match it with any recent news reports about potential targets.

After a while, he noticed that several of the locations marked on the map had been mentioned in recent news reports. They were all related to the terraforming of Mars, which had been a hot topic lately. Jarmo knew he had to head to Mars and find out more about the Tiger’s plans. He set a course for the red planet and began his journey.

As he got closer to Mars, Jarmo realized that he had a problem. He didn’t have any valid credentials to land on the planet. He knew he had to find a way to get clearance or risk being arrested as soon as he landed.

He began to contact various officials and authorities on the planet, trying to bluff his way into getting clearance. It wasn’t until he stumbled upon an old friend from his time working with the Mars project that he managed to get the clearance he needed.

Once he landed on Mars, Jarmo began to gather information. He knew that he had to act fast if he wanted to stop the attack. There was only one problem: He found nothing. It seemed as if the red planet Mars was nothing more than a red herring.

Tree-Men of Mars

Jarmo and Leonore stood on the dusty red surface of Mars, gazing up at the sky. The thin atmosphere of the planet made the stars appear much brighter than they would on Earth, but that was not what they were interested in. Their attention was focused on a single point of light that seemed to twinkle in the distance.

“That’s it,” Jarmo said, pointing up at the star. “That’s where we’re headed.”

Leonore nodded, her blonde hair shimmering in the faint light. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked. “I mean, we barely came back from our last trip to Mars.”

Jarmo smiled. “That’s what makes it so exciting, Leonore. Besides, we have a new ship now. The Kaylyn is state-of-the-art. Nothing can go wrong.”

Leonore looked at Jarmo skeptically, but she could not deny the thrill of adventure that was building inside her. She had always been a bit of a risk-taker, and this trip promised to be the most exciting yet. The two Germans then started talking about the tribe of Tree-Men they were going to meet.

“They’re an ancient people,” Jarmo said. “No one really knows much about them, but there are rumors that they live in the trees. Can you imagine that, Leonore? A whole village in the trees!”

Leonore smiled, imagining what such a village might look like. “I can’t wait to see it,” she said.

Eleonore was then a little surprised when Jarmo asked her back into the ship. He set a new course. And then she understood. When he pointed to the distance, he didn’t mean a point on the surface of Mars. He had pointed to a point of light in the sky. A star or a planet.

“I don’t understand,” Leonore said. “Why did you tell me we were going to Mars?”

Jarmo shrugged. “I wanted to surprise you.” She looked at him skeptically. “Okay, admittedly, I wanted to set a false trail. Didn’t you notice? Someone is trying to follow us. The tree-men of Mars are gone, the tribe was destroyed in the last Solar War. But there are still relatives of them, on Venus. If we can find out more about their ancestors on Mars, it could be the discovery of a lifetime! And that’s why we are going to Venus now.”
“And you think, if someone has been following us, that the diversionary tactic will be enough?”
“I hope so.”

The flight from Mars to Venus on the new ship did not go very long. Excitement surged through Leonore as she and Jarmo flew down to the surface of Venus. They landed in a dense jungle, surrounded by towering trees. Jarmo pointed to one of the trees, which appeared to be the tallest in the area.

“That’s where we’re headed,” he said.

The climb up the tree was treacherous, but Jarmo and Leonore were experienced climbers. As they neared the top, they saw the first signs of the Tree-Men’s village. The houses were built high up in the branches, connected by a series of bridges and walkways. The villagers themselves were nowhere to be seen.

Jarmo and Leonore explored the village, marveling at the intricate designs of the houses and the ingenuity of the bridges. They came across a group of Tree-Men who were gathered around a fire. Jarmo approached them cautiously, speaking in his broken Tree-Man dialect.

The Tree-Men were wary of Jarmo and Leonore at first, but they soon warmed up to them. They were fascinated by the idea that there might be another tribe of Tree-Men on Mars, and they eagerly shared stories of their ancestors.

One of the Tree-Men told the story of a great hero who had traveled to Mars in search of a lost treasure. Jarmo and Leonore listened with rapt attention, imagining the adventure that must have been.

As the night wore on, Jarmo and Leonore began to feel a strange connection to the Tree-Men. They could sense the rhythm of the jungle around them, and the ancient wisdom of the Tree-Men seemed to seep into their souls. They stayed up late, listening to the stories and songs of the Tree-Men, until they finally fell asleep beneath the stars.

Over the next few days, Jarmo and Leonore continued to explore the village and learn more about the Tree-Men’s culture. They climbed higher and higher in the trees, discovering hidden places and secret paths that few outsiders had ever seen. They even helped the Tree-Men with some of their daily tasks, such as gathering fruit and weaving baskets.

As they grew more comfortable with the Tree-Men, Jarmo and Leonore began to notice a subtle change in the way they interacted with each other. They found themselves stealing glances and lingering touches, as if they were caught up in the magic of the jungle.

One night, as they sat around the fire with the Tree-Men, Jarmo leaned over and whispered in Leonore’s ear.

“I know this sounds crazy, but I feel like I’ve known you forever. Like we’re meant to be together.”

“I feel it too,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.

Jarmo took her hand and they shared a smile. The Tree-Men around them seemed to sense the connection between the two humans and they smiled knowingly.

As the days passed, Jarmo and Leonore’s relationship grew stronger. They explored the jungle together, climbed the trees hand-in-hand, and shared secret kisses when they thought no one was looking. They knew that their time on Venus was limited, but they were determined to make the most of it.

One day, as they were walking through the jungle, they came across a strange object. It was a small, silver orb that seemed to pulse with energy.

“What do you think it is?” Leonore asked.

Jarmo shrugged. “I don’t know, but it looks like some kind of technology. Maybe we should take it back to Earth and have it analyzed.”

They carefully picked up the orb and started back towards the village. But as they walked, they felt a strange presence watching them. They looked around, but they couldn’t see anything.

Suddenly, they heard a voice in their heads. It was not the voice of the Tree-Men, but something more alien and otherworldly.

“Give me the orb,” the voice said. “It belongs to my people.”

Jarmo and Leonore stopped in their tracks, their hearts pounding in their chests.

“Who are you?” Jarmo asked.

“I am a member of the Ancient Ones,” the voice replied. “We are the true masters of this galaxy. The orb belongs to us.”

Jarmo and Leonore exchanged a look. They knew they had to be careful. The Ancient Ones were an enigmatic race that few had ever encountered. They were rumored to be ancient beings that had existed long before humans, and that they possessed incredible power and technology.

“We can’t just give you the orb,” Jarmo said. “We don’t know what it does or what it’s for. We need to study it first.”

The voice in their heads grew angry. “You humans are always so foolish. You have no idea what you’re dealing with. Give me the orb or face the consequences.”

Suddenly, Jarmo and Leonore felt a surge of energy. They were lifted off their feet and thrown through the air. They landed hard on the ground, dazed and disoriented. As they struggled to stand up, they saw a figure emerging from the shadows. It was humanoid in shape, but it was taller than any human they had ever seen. Its skin was a pale blue, and its eyes glowed with an otherworldly light.

“We warned you,” the figure said. “Now you will suffer the consequences.”

Jarmo and Leonore knew they had to act fast. They scrambled to their feet and ran back towards the village as fast as they could. The figure pursued them, its long strides easily overtaking them. They burst into the village, shouting for help. The Tree-Men looked up in surprise, but when they saw the figure chasing Jarmo and Leonore, they sprang into action.

They attacked the figure with spears and bows, but it seemed to be impervious to their weapons. It advanced steadily towards Jarmo and Leonore, its eyes locked on the orb they carried.

Suddenly, there was a loud crackling sound, and the figure was enveloped in a bright light. Jarmo and Leonore shielded their eyes, but when they looked again, the figure was gone.

In its place stood an old man, dressed in strange robes. He held out his hand, and Jarmo and Leonore saw that he pointed at the orb.

“Give it to me,” the old man said. “It belongs to my people.”

Jarmo and Leonore hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to do. But the old man’s eyes were kind, and they sensed no malice in him. Reluctantly, they handed over the orb. The old man studied it for a moment, then nodded.

“You have done well to bring this to us,” he said. “We will reward you.”

Jarmo and Leonore were stunned. They had expected the worst, but instead they had been praised. The old man motioned for them to follow him, and they walked through the jungle together.

As they walked, the old man told them stories of his people. He spoke of a great civilization that had existed millions of years ago, and of the incredible technology they had possessed.

“We were the masters of the galaxy,” he said. “But we grew too powerful, too arrogant. And so we started fights among each other.”

Jarmo and Leonore listened in awe as the old man spoke. They knew that they were witnessing something incredible, something that few humans had ever seen.

Finally, they reached a clearing in the jungle. In the center of the clearing stood a strange machine, unlike anything Jarmo and Leonore had ever seen before.

“This is a time machine,” the old man said. “With it, you can travel through time and see the wonders of our civilization.”

Jarmo and Leonore were hesitant. They knew that time travel was dangerous, and they didn’t want to interfere with the course of history.

But the old man reassured them. “You will be safe,” he said. “Nothing can change the path of time. And you will learn things that will change your world forever.”

Jarmo and Leonore exchanged a look. They knew that they couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this. Together, they stepped into the time machine, and the old man activated it. The world around them blurred and twisted, and they were plunged into darkness.

When they emerged, they were in a different time and place. They looked around in wonder, taking in the incredible sights around them. They saw towering cities of silver and gold, filled with machines that seemed to defy the laws of physics. They saw strange creatures that they couldn’t even begin to describe. And they saw the Ancient Ones themselves, towering beings of pure energy that floated through the sky like gods. Jarmo and Leonore were overwhelmed by it all. They knew that they were witnessing something incredible, something that would change their lives forever.

Finally, the old man motioned for them to return to the time machine. They knew that their time in the past was coming to an end, but they felt like they had been there for years.

As they stepped back into the time machine, they saw the old man smile at them.

“I hope you have learned something,” he said.

Jarmo and Leonore nodded, still unable to find the words to express their amazement.

The old man activated the machine, and they were plunged back into darkness once more.

When they emerged, they found themselves back in the village of the Tree-Men. The old man handed them a small device.

“This is a communicator,” he said. “With it, you can contact us anytime you need our help.”

Jarmo and Leonore thanked him and promised to use it wisely. As they made their way back to their ship, they couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. They had seen things that few humans had ever seen, and they had made contact with an ancient civilization that had been there for millions of years. But they also knew that their journey was not over. There were still mysteries to be uncovered, and adventures to be had.

As they took off from the surface of Venus and looked out at the stars, they knew that they were a small part of something much larger than themselves.

And that, they realized, was the greatest adventure of all.

The Boomerang

Jarmo Dorak and Leonore Wagner had been together for just over a month since their adventure on Cita Nalur. They had both been working hard and decided it was time to take a well-deserved vacation. They had booked a cruise through the solar system on a luxury space ship called “The Boomerang”. The ship promised to take them to some of the most beautiful places in the galaxy, and they couldn’t wait to explore everything it had to offer.

Jarmo was excited to see all the wonders of the Solar System with Leonore. The couple had fallen in love while on their last adventure, and they were looking forward to spending more time together on this vacation.

The first stop on their trip was Mercury. The ship had landed on the planet’s surface, and the couple had the opportunity to explore a large domed city built for tourists. The temperature outside was over 800 degrees Fahrenheit, so the dome was necessary to protect the visitors. Jarmo and Leonore were fascinated by the city’s architecture and the technology that kept the dome up.

After a long day of exploring, Jarmo and Leonore returned to their cabin. They were exhausted but exhilarated by their first day on the cruise. They sat on the bed, looking out the window at the stars and planets in the distance.

“I can’t believe we’re really here,” Leonore said, snuggling up to Jarmo.

“I know,” Jarmo replied, putting his arm around her. “It’s like a dream come true.”

The next day, the ship traveled to Venus. The couple was amazed by the beauty of the planet’s landscape, with its towering mountains and deep valleys. They visited a spa that was built around one of the planet’s natural hot springs. The water was so warm that they could feel their muscles relax immediately.

After a day of relaxation, the couple returned to their cabin. They lay down on the bed, holding hands.

“I’m so glad we decided to take this trip,” Leonore said, gazing into Jarmo’s eyes.

“Me too,” Jarmo replied, kissing her gently. “I’m having the time of my life.”

The next stop on their journey was Mars. The couple was amazed by the planet’s red landscape and the towering volcanoes in the distance. They visited a research facility where scientists were studying the planet’s geology and searching for signs of ancient life.

After a day of exploring, Jarmo and Leonore returned to their cabin. They sat on the bed, looking out the window at the stars.

“I can’t believe how much we’ve seen already,” Leonore said, taking Jarmo’s hand.

“I know,” Jarmo replied, pulling her close. “But there’s so much more to come.”

The ship then traveled to Jupiter, and the couple marveled at the planet’s size and the great red spot in the atmosphere. They visited a large research station orbiting the planet, where they saw the latest advancements in space technology.

After a day of exploring, Jarmo and Leonore returned to their cabin once more.

“Jupiter was amazing,” Leonore said, resting her head on Jarmo’s shoulder.

“I can’t wait to see what’s next,” Jarmo replied, stroking her hair.

The next stop was Saturn, and the couple was awed by the planet’s beautiful rings. They visited a tourist station that orbited one of the planet’s moons, where they saw a breathtaking view of Saturn and its rings from above.

“This trip just keeps getting better and better,” Leonore said, beaming with excitement.

“I know,” Jarmo replied, feeling grateful for this experience with the woman he loved. “I can’t believe how lucky we are to be here.”

The ship then traveled to Uranus, and the couple was amazed by the planet’s unique blue-green color. They visited a research facility that studied the planet’s magnetic field and the unique rings that orbited it.

“I can’t believe all the amazing things we’ve seen,” Leonore said, her eyes sparkling with wonder.

“I know,” Jarmo replied, smiling at her. “But we still have one more stop left.”

The ship’s final destination was Neptune, and the couple was in awe of the planet’s deep blue color. They visited a research facility that studied the planet’s moons and their potential for colonization.

After a day of exploring, Jarmo and Leonore returned to their cabin for the final time. They sat on the bed, looking out the window at the stars.

“It’s hard to believe that this trip is almost over,” Leonore said, feeling a sense of sadness that it was coming to an end.

“I know,” Jarmo replied, feeling the same way. “But we’ll always have these memories.”

As they sat there, holding each other close, they knew that this trip had been more than just a vacation. It had been a journey of discovery, not just of the wonders of the universe but of the depths of their love for each other.

The next day, the ship began its journey back to Earth, and Jarmo and Leonore spent their time reflecting on their journey. They talked about all the amazing things they had seen and the memories they would cherish forever.

As they approached Earth, Jarmo turned to Leonore and took her hand. “I love you,” he said, looking deeply into her eyes.

“I love you too,” she replied, feeling the warmth of his touch.

The ship landed on Earth, and Jarmo and Leonore stepped off, feeling grateful for the incredible journey they had shared. As they walked hand in hand, they knew that they had found something truly special in each other, something that no adventure in the galaxy could ever match.

Ancient Enemies

Jarmo Dorak and Leonore Wagner had been back on Earth for a month since their expedition to Mars. They were in the ASTROCOHORS CLUB Headquarters examining the mysterious mirror and crystal they had discovered on the Red Planet.

“This mirror and crystal have been giving us headaches for weeks. I still can’t figure out what they do,” said Jarmo, examining the artifacts closely.

“I know, Jarmo. But we can’t give up now. We have to keep trying,” replied Leonore.

Suddenly, something strange happened. The room around them began to spin, and they were teleported away. They found themselves on what seemed like a different world, and a fierce battle was taking place around them.

“We have to get out of here!” shouted Leonore, trying to dodge the gunfire.

Jarmo nodded in agreement, and they began to run, trying to avoid the crossfire. As they were running, they heard a loud explosion and turned to see a nearby building collapsing.

“We need to find a way out of here now!” exclaimed Jarmo.

As they ran, they saw soldiers from both sides fighting each other with weapons they had never seen before. The battle took place on the ground, in the air, and in the water, and Jarmo and Leonore had to duck and dodge to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

“Who are these people? What’s going on?” asked Leonore, panting heavily.

“I don’t know, but we need to find a way out of here,” replied Jarmo, looking around frantically.

They continued to run, trying to find a way out of the chaos that surrounded them. As they ran, they saw a group of soldiers up ahead and ran towards them.

“Please, you have to help us. We don’t know how we got here, but we need to find a way back to Earth,” said Leonore, panting heavily.

The soldiers looked at each other before one of them stepped forward. “You’re on CITA NALUR. This is an island where ancient enemies fight each other. They don’t know why or how, but they have to continue fighting. And you two are caught in the middle of it.”

Jarmo and Leonore were stunned. They had no idea how they had ended up on this strange island or why they were being forced to witness this ancient battle. They knew they had to find a way to escape and get back to Earth.

Over the next few days, Jarmo and Leonore tried everything they could think of to escape the island, but they were always thwarted. They explored the island, trying to find any clue that could lead them back to Earth, but nothing seemed to work. Meanwhile, the fighting between the two armies continued, and the situation on the island grew more and more tense.

As they spent more time together, Jarmo and Leonore found themselves becoming more and more attracted to each other. Jarmo, however, was hesitant to act on his feelings. He remembered the painful end of his relationship with Tashana, and he did not want to risk getting hurt again. But he couldn’t deny the attraction he felt for Leonore.

“We have to find a way out of here. I don’t want to spend another day on this island,” said Jarmo, frustration evident in his voice.

“I know, Jarmo. But we can’t give up. We have to keep trying,” replied Leonore, placing a hand on his arm.

They talked about their feelings for each other, with Leonore insisting that their age difference didn’t matter to her. She was more concerned with finding a way off the island and back to Earth. Jarmo, on the other hand, found it hard to ignore the feelings he had for Leonore. He admired her bravery and intelligence, and he enjoyed spending time with her.

As they continued to work together to find a way off the island, they grew even closer. They shared their stories, hopes, and fears, and they found that they had a lot in common. They talked late into the night, and Jarmo found himself opening up to Leonore in ways he never had with anyone else. But he was also afraid. In his past relationships, that was always the point where it was a step too far. The move that Jarmo believes resulted in the evolving relationship ultimately falling apart. The experiences had made Jarmo almost superstitious.

One day, while exploring a cave on the island, Jarmo and Leonore stumbled upon a hidden chamber. Inside, they found an ancient artifact that looked like a control panel.

“Look at this, Leonore. It’s some kind of control panel. Maybe it can help us get off this island,” said Jarmo, pointing at the panel.

Leonore nodded, and they began to examine the controls. They were surprised to find that the panel responded to their touch, and they realized that it was a portal control device.

“Jarmo, this is it. This is how we can get off this island,” said Leonore, excitement evident in her voice.

Jarmo smiled, feeling a surge of hope. “Let’s see if we can program it to take us back to Earth.”

They worked quickly, programming the device to take them back to Earth. They knew they had to act fast before they were discovered by the armies fighting on the island. They pressed the activation button, and suddenly, they were enveloped in a bright light.

When the light faded, they found themselves back in the ASTROCOHORS CLUB Headquarters, safe and sound.

“We did it, Leonore. We made it back to Earth,” said Jarmo, relief and excitement evident in his voice.

Leonore grinned, feeling a sense of accomplishment. “I knew we could do it. We make a great team.”

They looked at each other for a moment, and then Jarmo took a deep breath. “Leonore, there’s something I need to tell you. I’ve been hesitant to act on my feelings for you because of my past relationship, but I can’t deny how I feel about you. Will you give me a chance to show you how much you mean to me?”

Leonore smiled, feeling her heart skip a beat. “Yes, Jarmo. I’d like that very much.”

They leaned in and shared a kiss, and Jarmo felt a sense of happiness that he hadn’t felt in a long time. He knew that he and Leonore had been through a lot together, and he was excited to see what the future held for them.

As they left the ASTROCOHORS CLUB Headquarters hand in hand, they knew that they had faced a challenge that had brought them closer together. They had found love in the midst of chaos, and they knew that they could face anything as long as they were together.

Queen of Magic

Jarmo Dorak and Leonore Wagner were no strangers to adventure. They had faced danger on Mercury and emerged victorious. But now, three months after their first encounter with the crystal, they found themselves on a new quest. The crystal had been examined by the world’s top scientists, and they had made a remarkable discovery. The crystal had once belonged to a member of the Order of the Blue Sorcerers, a powerful sorceress known as the “Queen of Magic.” With the crystal, she had been able to travel through space at will.

Jarmo and Leonore knew they had to find out more about this mysterious figure. They had heard rumors that the palace of the Queen of Magic was located in a remote valley on Mars. They set out to find it, determined to uncover its secrets. Their journey to the valley was treacherous, and they faced many dangers along the way. The harsh Martian landscape was unforgiving, and they had to rely on their survival skills to make it through.

Finally, they arrived at the valley, and it was just as they had heard. The palace of the Queen of Magic was there, hidden in the shadows of the cliffs. It was a massive structure, made of black stone and decorated with intricate carvings and glyphs. Jarmo and Leonore were awestruck by the palace’s grandeur, but they knew they had to be cautious. The Queen of Magic had been a powerful sorceress, and her palace could be filled with traps and magical defenses.

As they approached the palace, they noticed something strange. The entrance was not where they had expected it to be. Instead of a grand doorway, they found a small cave, barely large enough for them to crawl through.

Jarmo rolled his eyes. “Of course, it’s another cave. We’ve been in enough of those lately.”

Leonore chuckled. “Well, we can’t let a little thing like a cave stop us, can we?”

Together, they entered the cave, and what they found inside was nothing short of incredible. The cave was lined with crystals, and they shimmered in the dim light of their torches. As they made their way through the winding passages, they found themselves in a large chamber, filled with strange artifacts and ancient books. Jarmo and Leonore were both mesmerized by what they saw. It was clear that the Queen of Magic had been a powerful figure, with knowledge and abilities beyond anything they had ever seen before.

They spent hours in the chamber, examining the artifacts and studying the books. Finally, they came across a small, round mirror with a handle. It was intricately decorated, with swirling patterns and sparkling gems.

Jarmo picked up the mirror, and as he did, he felt a strange energy coursing through his body. He looked into the mirror, and his reflection started to shimmer and warp. Suddenly, the mirror exploded into a shower of light, and Jarmo was sucked into a vortex of energy. Leonore screamed, but there was nothing she could do. Jarmo had disappeared, and she was alone in the chamber.

She was about to give up hope when she heard a voice calling to her from somewhere in the room. It was Jarmo, and he sounded excited.

“Leonore, come look at this!” he shouted.

She made her way over to where his voice was coming from and found him standing in front of a bookshelf. He was holding a book, and his eyes were wide with wonder.

“Look at this, Leonore,” he said, holding up the book. “It’s a map. A map to the Temple of the Windharp.”

Leonore couldn’t believe it. The Temple of the Windharp was a legendary place. It was said to hold great power and secrets, and many had searched for it throughout the ages, but no one had ever found it.

She wanted to pat Jarmo on the shoulder, but her hand didn’t reach. It went through Jarmo as if he weren’t there. She cried out in shock.
“What is it?” Jarmo asked innocently.
“You… I…”, Leonore stuttered. Then she tried to touch him again. Her hand went through him again. Like he’s not real. Or was she the one who wasn’t real? Something had happened.
“What do you remember?” she asked.
“Remember? I walked across the room, picked up the mirror and looked, then I discovered the book,” Jarmo replied.
“There was a flash of light,” said Leonore. “You don’t remember that anymore?”
“Er… no.”
“That explains a lot. I’ve been wondering why you’re standing here in the corner so clueless after what happened.”

Jarmo and Leonore had stumbled upon something incredible, and they knew they had to follow this map and find the temple. But first, they had to retrieve Jarmo from wherever he had been transported.

They searched the room for any clues, and finally, they found a small crystal that looked similar to the one they had found on Mercury. They realized that it must have been the key to activating the mirror.

Leonore took the crystal and held it up to the mirror. She focused her energy on it, and suddenly, the mirror flashed, and Jarmo fell to the floor.

But he got up immediately. He was grinning from ear to ear. “That was amazing! I traveled through time and space, Leonore. It was incredible!”

Leonore rolled her eyes. “Well, I’m just glad you’re back in one piece.”

They examined the mirror, trying to figure out what it was capable of. They realized that it was a tool for transportation, but it wasn’t just any kind of transportation. The mirror allowed people to travel through time and space, to any location. But how exactly it worked was not clear. Jarmo had apparently ended up in some kind of parallel dimension. He was still visible here, but not present.

They went on exploring the palace, uncovering secrets and learning mysteries. They found artifacts of incredible power and knowledge. Eventually, they gathered all the knowledge and artifacts they found to study those on Earth more closely. It was time to move on.

As they left planet Mars with their spaceship, Jarmo turned to Leonore and said, “You know, we make a pretty good team. Maybe we should stick together and see what else we can discover.”

Leonore smiled. “I think that’s a great idea. There’s a whole universe out there waiting for us, and we’re just getting started.”