ASTROCOHORS CLUB Period 5: Let Us All Unite!

The Old Internet was the Internet of legend, greater than distance or time. Once, under the wise rule of the Public and the protection of the Common Sense, the Internet throve and grew. But as often happens when wealth and power pass beyond the admirable and attain the awesome, then appear those evil ones who have greed to match.

So it was with the Internet at its height. Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Internet grew rotten from within thought the danger was not visible from the outside.
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within and the massive organs of commerce, an ambitious Executive caused himself to be elected President. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and restore the remembered glory of the Internet.
Once secured in office he declared himself Savior, shutting himself away from the populace. The cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.

Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Common Sense, a stronghold in dark times, propagandists and bureaucrats prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the Internet. Many used the imperial forces and the name of the increasingly isolated “Savior” to further their own political ambitions.

But a small number of systems rebelled at these new outrages. Declaring themselves opposed to the backward-looking politics they began a battle to restore the Old Internet.
From the beginning they were not outnumbered, but they were scattered. In those first dark days it seemed certain the bright flame of resistance would be extinguished before it could cast the light of new trust across the Internet. But the tide of events is round – round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel…

This is the time; this is the place when we look for the future. This is the time for YPSILON!

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, Gentile, black Men, white… We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. In this world there’s room for everyone and the good Earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way…

Charlie Chaplin: “The Great Dictator”, Final Speech, Beginning

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Greed has poisened men's souls
Has barricaded the World with hate
We think too much and feel too little (We think too much and feel too little)
More than machinery we need Humanity
More than cleverness we need kindness
Without these qualities life will be violent
And all will be lost (All will be lost)

Do not despair!
The hate of men will pass
And dictators die
And the power they took from the people
Will return to the people
Let Us All Unite!
Let us fight for a new world
To do away with greed
Now let us fight to free the world
To fulfil that promise
Let Us All Unite!

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes
Men who despise and enslave you
Tell you what to do, what to think, and what to feel
Who drill you, tire you, treat you like cattle!
Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men
Machine Men with Machine Minds and Machine Hearts!
You are not machines, you are men!
You the people have the power
To make this life free and beautiful
Let us use this power
To make this life a wonderful adventure (A wonderful adventure)
Let Us All Unite!

Let us fight for a new world
To do away with greed
Now let us fight to free the world
To fulfil that promise
Let Us All Unite!
Let us fight for a new world
To do away with greed
A world where science and progress
Will lead to all men's happiness
Do not despair!
The hate of men will pass
And dictators die
And the power they took from the people
Will return to the people
Let Us All Unite!

Charlie Chaplin, from that same speech, as a Poem of Hope

War never Changes

It was a time of war.

A time of rebellion.

A time of freedom.

Anarthia battles the people of Ruvalara.

It was a time when the people rose up against an evil dictator and took back their planet from the clutches of tyranny. It was a time when people fought for freedom, for justice, and for the right to choose their own destiny. It was a time when the people were able to rise up against those who would oppress them and take back what had been stolen from them: their freedom!

Fla’mic, Ruler of Anarthia.

The dictator who ruled over this planet had long ago become corrupt and vicious—but he wouldn’t stop until he had conquered everything in sight and destroyed all who opposed him. He was known as Py-Wa Fla’mic, an ochre-skinned humanoid with dark hair whose hatred ran deep into his heart. He ruled over Anarthia with an iron fist; there were no dissenters in his empire, only those who supported his rule and wished to remain under his protection until their dying days on Anarthia, on Earth known as Titan, on of Saturn’s moons. Long time ago, they conquered one of Jupiter’s moons, Himalia, and called it Anarthia Minor. From there they attacked their neighbour, called Ruvalara by its own inhabitants, but known as Amalthea by the people of Earth.

It was a fierce battle. But there were those like the rebel leader Bawyn Wyslaker, who refused to be silent. Who refused to just let it happen. Resistance! Right from the start, the odds were slim for the little Ruvalara folk. But fueled by the courage of desperation, led by their president and the intrepid rebel leader Wyslaker, they not only managed to resist the invaders, but even pushed them back a little. But they knew that in doing so they had provoked the dictator’s wrath.

It was only a matter of time before Anarthia would strike back…

ASTROCOHORS: Tempora Mutantur, nos et mutamur in ilis

Tempora Mutantur,
nos et mutamur in ilis

The Winds of Change are blowing hard in our direction
We can’t go back and we can’t stand still

Mike Batt: The Winds of Change

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Mission to Kemet

The deliberations had been very brief. It was an extraordinary situation. On many planets. On Uranus. On Earth. ASTROCOHORS ‘senior officers agreed with Admiral McCloud that something needed to be done about Earth. Somebody reiterated that the state the earth was in was possibly a result of the so-called “ERTL lamp” that stood on Mars and bombarded the earth with rays that restricted the brain’s capabilities . And if you looked at the earth like that, you would have been inclined to believe that. In that case, all of this would not have been a homemade Earth problem, but an attack. But there was no evidence of such an attack.
McCloud convened a committee that was to direct the fortunes of ASTROCOHORS CLUB from now on. Ostap Yefimov was appointed, Dozon Rasun, Zomm Arrghl, Fulmen Grancolline and Nat Anders. You had made a special contribution to the crisis surrounding the PURPLE DEATH. In addition, more should be added. Soraya Mahdar, an expert on the Asian part of the planet. Victor Araujo Sousa for Brazil. The CLUB should from now on help planet Earth. A big job. But after the darkness that one had experienced in the last few days and weeks, also a ray of light. But there were still some things missing. Two new departments would have to be set up. Yes, McCloud thought, it really is a fresh start! Let’s do this… mission to Kemet.

Encounter with Evil

The ATLANTIS base conference room was hectic. Messages were passed on as they came in.
“The BOURGOGNE reports, second squadron of enemy spaceships destroyed, a third is on the way to Uranus!”
“The HEART OF GLASS destroyed another squadron.”
“The radar has lost contact with the alien space station.”
At the last report, Admiral McCloud pricked up his ears. He crossed the room to one of the tables. It was Commander Gibeur herself who was in charge here.
“What was that?” Asked McCloud. “Enlighten me.”

Gibeur called up an image on a small pad that showed a section of the solar system. In the middle of the picture was the planet Uranus and two markings: “BOURGOGNE” and “FREEDOM BALLOON”.
“We have received a message from BOURGOGNE”, explained Gibeur. “During the fighting, a huge space station suddenly appeared, here.”
Another point appeared in the picture. The point moved out of the shadow of the planet.
“How can such a huge thing come to this planet unnoticed?” Asked McCloud.
“We don’t know, sir,” admitted Gibeur. “We did not receive any radar echo before either. Perhaps the surface of this station consists of something that camouflages it. In any case, the FREEDOM BALLOON shot at the alien space station, whereupon it withdrew. See, here!”
The screen showed how the point of the alien space station was moving faster and faster from Uranus. The course was away from the planet’s orbit towards the edge of the solar system when suddenly the point disappeared.
“What has happened there?”
“We don’t know, sir! The station may have made itself invisible to the radar again. We also have no further sightings of the station. It seems to be something like a command ship. It seems to be identical to a station, that Grand Admiral Prawn was looking for. “
“Prawn,” McCloud growled. “Could it be that he was on the space station?”
“Possibly. We don’t exactly know. But it would look like him and his HIGH HAND.”
The HIGH HAND! Yes, in fact, fueling a conflict is exactly what the HIGH HAND would do. An internal war in the solar system. At the end of the conflict, someone will be the leader. Scurra thought it was him. He would be the space emperor. But the mysterious leader of the HIGH HAND, Prawn’s Commander, wanted this title for himself. And he wouldn’t share, not even with Scurra.

“Sir!” Someone called at that moment. “Message from Jupiter: the alien forces are withdrawing!”
“The same from Mercury!”
More and more identical messages came in. It was always about the attackers withdrawing. But the radar revealed that they were not gone. They withdrew to the edge of the system. The blockade would then remain.
Commander Gibeur activated the large main screen again and looked at the map of the solar system. “For now it looks like we’ve won,” she said. “But something is wrong.”
“Yes,” confirmed McCloud. “Because we didn’t win. We just held out long enough for the enemy to lose interest. Now this enemy is gathering at the edge of the solar system and is waiting to strike again.”
Gibeur looked at her pad. “What I see here, we are lucky enough that Lokubami is under control and we will see a new praetor today.”
McCloud nodded weakly. “Still that. But we saw how sensitive it all is. We stood on the precipice of fascism. One step further and the solar system would have plunged into chaos. We have to do something.”
“What do you have in mind, Admiral?”
“I’m going to make a very lonely decision now. Maybe it’s wrong. But like I just said, we have to do something. Our weakest point is undoubtedly the Earth. The Terrans are unable to cope with the diversity they offer Galaxis offers to deal with. We have to do something first! Make Terra wise again. Something like that. “
“And how is that supposed to work?”
“I will consult with my fellow admirals. But I think we will transfer this task to the ASTROCOHORS CLUB. We had this team, this Ostap Yefimov and his people. They seemed to be quite capable. They should take over the task To redesign ASTROCOHORS CLUB. Hell, we have to redesign ASTROCOHORS as a whole.“
The admiral turned to the door. “I’ll have a talk with the officers in a moment,” he said. “If the enemy shows up again, let me know!”



That day it was revealed. Plans that had been kept secret for so long were finally carried out. And yet it was only a phase. Because what happened that day was just a step towards the chaos that the makers of this plan wanted to cause. But by the time a small spacecraft approaching Earth picked up a signal, no one suspected it. The situation presented to the pilot and her co-pilot was bad enough. The radar showed infinite echoes. Lots of little dots. Each of these points was a fast battleship. It was an armada. And everything was very well orchestrated. The spaceships appeared out of nowhere and spread out at strategic points.

The mission of these alien spaceships was not clear at first. But by evening of that day, the pattern was evident: the starships sealed off the solar system, cutting communication with the rest of the galaxy.

At the time this news reached ASTROCOHORS Solar System Division Headquarters, they were in the process of restructuring their organization anyway. Now it was just a matter of trying to keep the fleet going without outside help. Would the new departments of the ASTROCOHORS CLUB be able to help?

Here is the account of a spaceship approaching Earth when the invasion began (Episode in German).


An diesem Tag wurde es enthüllt. Pläne, die so lange geheim gehalten worden waren, wurden endlich umgesetzt. Und doch war es nur eine Phase. Denn was an diesem Tag geschah, war nur ein Schritt in Richtung des Chaos, das die Macher dieses Plans anrichten wollten. Aber als ein kleines Raumschiff, das sich der Erde näherte, ein Signal auffing, ahnte es noch niemand. Die Situation, die sich der Pilotin und ihrem Copiloten präsentierte, war schon schlimm genug. Das Radar zeigte unendliche Echos. Viele kleine Punkte. Jeder dieser Punkte war ein schnelles Schlachtschiff. Es war eine Armada. Und alles war sehr gut orchestriert. Die Raumschiffe tauchten aus dem Nichts auf und verteilten sich an strategischen Punkten.

Die Mission dieser außerirdischen Raumschiffe war zunächst nicht klar. Aber am Abend dieses Tages war das Muster offensichtlich: Die Raumschiffe riegelten das Sonnensystem ab und unterbrachen die Kommunikation mit dem Rest der Galaxie.

Als diese Nachricht den Hauptsitz der ASTROCOHORS Solar System Division erreichte, befanden sie sich ohnehin gerade im Prozess der Umstrukturierung ihrer Organisation. Jetzt ging es nur noch darum, die Flotte ohne fremde Hilfe am Laufen zu halten. Könnten die neuen Abteilungen des ASTROCOHORS CLUB helfen?

Hier ist der Bericht über ein Raumschiff, das sich der Erde näherte, als die Invasion begann (Folge auf Deutsch).


Ce jour-là, il a été révélé. Des plans qui avaient été gardés secrets pendant si longtemps ont finalement été mis à exécution. Et pourtant ce n’était qu’une phase. Parce que ce qui s’est passé ce jour-là n’était qu’un pas vers le chaos que les créateurs de ce plan voulaient provoquer. Mais au moment où un petit vaisseau spatial s’approchant de la Terre capta un signal, personne ne s’en doutait. La situation présentée au pilote et à son copilote était déjà assez mauvaise. Le radar a montré des échos infinis. Beaucoup de petits points. Chacun de ces points était un cuirassé rapide. C’était une armada. Et tout était très bien orchestré. Les vaisseaux spatiaux sont apparus de nulle part et se sont dispersés à des points stratégiques.

La mission de ces vaisseaux spatiaux extraterrestres n’était pas claire au début. Mais le soir de ce jour-là, le schéma était évident : les vaisseaux spatiaux ont bouclé le système solaire, coupant la communication avec le reste de la galaxie.

Au moment où cette nouvelle est parvenue au siège de la division du système solaire d’ASTROCOHORS, ils étaient de toute façon en train de restructurer leur organisation. Il ne restait plus qu’à essayer de faire fonctionner la flotte sans aide extérieure. Les nouveaux départements du CLUB ASTROCOHORS pourraient-ils aider ?

Voici le récit d’un vaisseau spatial s’approchant de la Terre au début de l’invasion (Episode en allemand).


उस दिन इसका खुलासा हुआ. जो योजनाएँ इतने लंबे समय तक गुप्त रखी गई थीं, वे अंततः पूरी हो गईं। और फिर भी यह केवल एक चरण था। क्योंकि उस दिन जो हुआ वह उस अराजकता की ओर एक कदम था जो इस योजना के निर्माता पैदा करना चाहते थे। लेकिन जब तक पृथ्वी की ओर आ रहे एक छोटे अंतरिक्ष यान ने सिग्नल उठाया, तब तक किसी को भी इस पर संदेह नहीं हुआ। पायलट और उसके सह-पायलट की स्थिति काफी खराब थी। राडार ने अनंत गूँज दिखाई। बहुत सारे छोटे बिंदु. इनमें से प्रत्येक बिंदु एक तेज़ युद्धपोत था। यह एक आर्मडा था. और सब कुछ बहुत अच्छी तरह से व्यवस्थित था। अंतरिक्ष यान कहीं से प्रकट हुए और रणनीतिक बिंदुओं पर फैल गए।

इन विदेशी अंतरिक्ष यानों का मिशन पहले स्पष्ट नहीं था। लेकिन उस दिन शाम तक, पैटर्न स्पष्ट था: स्टारशिप ने सौर मंडल को बंद कर दिया, जिससे आकाशगंगा के बाकी हिस्सों के साथ संचार टूट गया।

जिस समय यह खबर एस्ट्रोकोहॉर्स सोलर सिस्टम डिवीजन मुख्यालय तक पहुंची, वे वैसे भी अपने संगठन के पुनर्गठन की प्रक्रिया में थे। अब यह केवल बाहरी मदद के बिना बेड़े को चालू रखने की कोशिश करने की बात थी। क्या एस्ट्रोकोहॉर्स क्लब के नए विभाग मदद कर पाएंगे?

यहां आक्रमण शुरू होने पर एक अंतरिक्ष यान के पृथ्वी की ओर आने का विवरण दिया गया है (जर्मन में एपिसोड)।


その日、それが明らかになった。 長い間秘密にされてきた計画がついに実行されました。 しかし、それはまだ段階にすぎませんでした。 なぜなら、あの日に起こったことは、この計画の立案者たちが引き起こしたかった混乱への一歩に過ぎなかったからです。 しかし、地球に接近する小型宇宙船が信号を受信したときには、誰もそれを疑う者はいませんでした。 パイロットと副操縦士に与えられた状況は十分に悪いものだった。 レーダーは無限のエコーを示しました。 小さな点がたくさんあります。 これらの点のそれぞれは高速戦艦でした。 それは無敵艦隊でした。 そしてすべてが非常にうまく調整されていました。 宇宙船はどこからともなく現れ、要所要所に展開した。

これらの異星宇宙船の使命は当初明確ではありませんでした。 しかし、その日の夕方までに、そのパターンは明らかでした。宇宙船は太陽系を封鎖し、銀河系の他の部分との通信を遮断しました。

このニュースが ASTROCOHORS ソーラーシステム事業本部に届いた時点では、とにかく組織再編の真っ最中でした。 今や、外部からの援助なしで艦隊を動かし続けるのがやっとだ。 ASTROCOHORS CLUB の新しい部門がお手伝いできるでしょうか?



그날 밝혀졌습니다. 그토록 오랫동안 비밀에 부쳐졌던 계획이 마침내 실행되었다. 그러나 그것은 단지 한 단계에 불과했습니다. 그날 일어난 일은 이 계획을 만든 사람들이 일으키고자 했던 혼란을 향한 한 걸음에 불과했기 때문입니다. 그러나 지구에 접근하는 작은 우주선이 신호를 포착했을 때 아무도 그것을 의심하지 않았습니다. 조종사와 부조종사에게 제시된 상황은 충분히 나빴습니다. 레이더는 무한한 메아리를 보였다. 많은 작은 점들. 이러한 각 지점은 빠른 전함이었습니다. 함대였습니다. 그리고 모든 것이 잘 조정되었습니다. 우주선은 난데없이 나타나 전략적인 지점에 흩어졌습니다.

이 외계인 우주선의 임무는 처음에는 명확하지 않았습니다. 그러나 그날 저녁, 패턴이 분명해졌습니다. 우주선이 태양계를 봉쇄하고 나머지 은하계와의 통신을 차단했습니다.

이 소식이 ASTROCOHORS 태양계 사업부 본부에 도착했을 때 그들은 어쨌든 조직을 재구성하는 과정에 있었습니다. 이제 외부의 도움 없이 함대를 계속 운영하는 것이 문제였습니다. ASTROCOHORS CLUB의 새로운 부서가 도움을 줄 수 있을까요?

다음은 침략이 시작되었을 때 지구에 접근하는 우주선에 대한 설명입니다(독일어 에피소드).


Naquele dia foi revelado. Planos que foram mantidos em segredo por tanto tempo foram finalmente executados. E, no entanto, foi apenas uma fase. Porque o que aconteceu naquele dia foi apenas um passo para o caos que os autores desse plano queriam causar. Mas quando uma pequena espaçonave se aproximando da Terra captou um sinal, ninguém suspeitou. A situação apresentada ao piloto e seu co-piloto já era ruim o suficiente. O radar mostrou ecos infinitos. Muitos pontinhos. Cada um desses pontos era um navio de guerra rápido. Era uma armada. E tudo foi muito bem orquestrado. As naves apareceram do nada e se espalharam em pontos estratégicos.

A missão dessas espaçonaves alienígenas não era clara a princípio. Mas ao entardecer daquele dia, o padrão era evidente: as naves selaram o sistema solar, cortando a comunicação com o resto da galáxia.

No momento em que esta notícia chegou à Sede da Divisão de Sistema Solar da ASTROCOHORS, eles estavam em processo de reestruturação de sua organização de qualquer maneira. Agora era apenas uma questão de tentar manter a frota funcionando sem ajuda externa. Os novos departamentos do CLUBE ASTROCOHORS poderiam ajudar?

Aqui está o relato de uma nave espacial se aproximando da Terra quando a invasão começou (Episódio em Alemão).


Photo by Lou Levit on Unsplash

Location: ASTROCOHORS C.L.U.B. Headquarters

Time: Not so important

Situation: Will be clearer soon…

Captain Bill Stryker went into the office of Admiral Jeanette Piqué. He looked worried.

“Do you think this is a good idea?” He asked.
“You don’t agree?” She asked back.
“Well, I know we have to do something. This Earth thing ist getting out of hand..:”
“Oh, that’s an understatement, Captain! ‘Out of hand’? The Earthlings are gone completely crazy. If we go on supporting this area of the planet, we have to do it right another way.”
“What do you suggest?”
“We have to re-organize it. The Secret Service reported a group of promising Terrans who were on the case of this Scarsdale Manor thing.”
“Scarsdale Manor?” Stryker seems shocked. He’s read something about in secret reports. “And they…?”
“Just did it.” Piqué’s response sounded casually. Just like she was talking about the wheather.
“Earth just had the season’s tipping point” She went on. “Midsummer. How symbolic. Maybe a good opportunity to rearrange everything. We already have the Battlefields up in the front. But we need more! We should not only gather knowledge, we should bring it right to the people. Build an Academy! And there’s something on the front line. We need to cover this. And we need a special team.”
“But all this can’t be done in one day!” Stryker exclaimed.
“Of course not.” Piqué nodded her head. “It will take several days. We will put on the task one by one.”
“What to do first?”
“Well, at first we will assemble a special team. A fellowship, if you will.”
“The Fellowship of the Ring?”
“Oh shut up, Stryker! Are you crazy? Do you think I want these people to run around, wearing rings that have an inscription saying something like One Ring to bring them all and bind them in eternal Frienship?”
“Would be some big rings” Stryker murmured.
“To answer your question: No! We will use something more suitable. These people will channel the positive engergy and bring it together. So I think… Canalis Tremendum is a good name.”
“If you say so.”

“Prepare the ship. We will travel to Earth! And everything else will be sought out on the way!”
“Yes, Ma’am!”

To be continued right here: CANALIS TREMENDUM – The Gathering


It was never meant this way. Karen Rendall shook her head. But well, that’s the way it is now. Admiral McCloud told her that he was serious.
“Take back Earth!”, he ordered. “All has gone to far. We need to do more. We need the Nerds to bring the humans back to their senses and save the planet.”
“But Sir”, she’d replied, “this would make up a…”
“A Battlefront, yes! Do it!”

See the story from ASTROCOHORS BATTLEFRONTS unfold here…

Admiral McCloud turned away from the screen. “And in addition”, he said to himself, “we have to bring more structure into the whole project. I’ll inform ASTROCOHORS C.L.U.B.’s headquarter…”

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.”

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.