Aisha and Jarmo sat on the cold metal floor of their cell, the only light coming from a small crack in the door. They had been here for almost a month now and every day was the same routine. They would receive a bowl of fish soup, then be allowed to exercise for an hour in the small courtyard, before being locked back in their cell.
“It seems like STAR COMMAND doesn’t even care about us,” Aisha said, frustration clear in her voice.
Jarmo shook his head, “They do care, Aisha. They just have to be careful. The Shark Men are a powerful force on this planet.”
Aisha sighed, “I know, but it’s just frustrating being stuck here. I miss the sunshine and fresh air.”
Jarmo put his arm around her, “I miss it too, Aisha. But at least we have each other.”
As they sat in silence, they suddenly heard a loud bang from outside the door. A figure quickly slipped through the crack and closed the door behind her. It was a woman, about 30 years old, with brown hair and a determined look in her eyes.
“I’m Marion Alsy, from BUREAU 07,” she whispered, “I’m here to get you out.”
Jarmo and Aisha stared at her in disbelief, unsure if they could trust her. But they knew they had no other choice. Marion pulled out a small device and placed it on the door. It beeped twice and the door slid open. “Quickly, we have to go now,” she said, leading the way.
Marion brought with her advanced underwater technology, including special breathing apparatuses that allowed Aisha and Jarmo to breathe underwater for an extended period of time. Aisha and Jarmo should quickly find out why. For not the entire city of the Chardadon was filled with air like the cell in which the two had been held captive. Some parts of the cave system in which the city was built were submerged. That was only logical, since the Chardadon were amphibians.
With Marion’s help, Aisha and Jarmo managed to escape their cell undetected. Then something strange happened: Marion put the breathing gear on the two before they were supposed to climb down into a tunnel that was flooded with water. Only Marion didn’t put on any equipment. Jarmo wondered if she could hold her breath that long, but then he realized it was different: she was breathing underwater! How was that possible? But now was no time to think about such details. They swam through the maze of tunnels and caverns that made up the underwater city, careful to avoid the Shark Men’s patrols.
As they swam through the dark, murky waters, they could see the glowing lights of the city growing smaller and smaller behind them. They knew they had to move quickly if they wanted to escape before the Shark Men realized they were missing.
Marion led the way, using her knowledge of the city’s layout to navigate through the twisting tunnels. Aisha and Jarmo followed closely behind, their hearts pounding with fear and anticipation.
As they swam, they could hear the sounds of alarms ringing out across the city, signaling that their escape had been discovered. They could also hear the sounds of the Shark Men’s weapons firing, echoing through the water.
Marion led them to a small, hidden chamber, where she had stashed a small underwater vehicle. They quickly climbed aboard and Marion piloted the craft out of the city and into the open sea.
As they sped away from the city, they could see the Shark Men’s submarines in hot pursuit. The chase was on.
Marion expertly maneuvered the small craft through the twisting underwater canyons, using the terrain to her advantage to stay one step ahead of the pursuing Shark Men.
Aisha and Jarmo manned the vehicle’s weapons, firing back at the Shark Men’s pursuing craft. The water exploded around them as the two sides exchanged fire.
Finally, after what felt like hours of intense fighting and heart-pumping action, Marion managed to outmaneuver the Shark Men and lose them in the maze of underwater canyons.
Exhausted and exhilarated, Aisha and Jarmo collapsed onto the floor of the small craft, their hearts still pounding with adrenaline.
“That was close,” Aisha said, looking over at Marion. “You’re a mircale.”
Marion smiled, “Don’t thank me too early,” she said, “We’re not yet at our destination.”
With that, they set course for the surface, leaving the underwater city of the Shark Men far behind them. Aisha and Jarmo were amazed when they looked out through the submarine’s portholes and saw countless jellyfish. Wasn’t that the case before? But it had already been a month since her trip to the city of the Chardadon. Finally they surfaced in a small cove and Marion turned to Aisha and Jarmo, “I’m sorry it took so long for BUREAU 07 to find you. We had to wait until we had a safe opportunity to get you out.”
In the cove a small, sleek submarine was waiting for them. “This is our final ride out of here,” Marion said with a grin.
The trio climbed aboard the sub and Marion set the coordinates for a nearby STAR COMMAND base. As they began their journey, Aisha and Jarmo couldn’t help but express their gratitude to Marion for rescuing them.
“Thank you so much for coming to our rescue,” Aisha said. “We thought we were goners.”
Marion smiled at them. “It’s all part of the job,” she replied. “I’m just glad I was able to get to you in time.”
Aisha McClure, Jarmo Dorak, and Marion Alsy had finally made their way back to the beach where they had found the slate with the map to the Temple of the Wind Harp. They were exhausted and battered, but they knew that they had to press on with their mission.
As they sat on the beach catching their breath, they noticed something moving in the water. At first, they thought it might be a school of fish, but as the creature came closer, they realized it was something far larger and more dangerous.
It was a sea beast, a giant creature with multiple tentacles that reached out from its massive body. The creature was heading straight for the beach, and it was clear that it was not going to stop until it had caught them.
Marion quickly sprang into action, grabbing her laser gun from her bag and firing a shot at the creature. The blast hit the creature, causing it to thrash and writhe in the water, but it didn’t slow down.
Jarmo and Aisha also drew their weapons, ready to fight off the beast. Aisha fired her blaster, but the creature’s thick skin absorbed the blast, leaving no visible damage.
Jarmo quickly realized that the creature was impervious to their laser guns and decided to try a different approach. He grabbed a nearby piece of driftwood and charged toward the creature, hoping to use it to block the tentacles.
As the creature got closer, Jarmo jumped into the water, holding the driftwood out in front of him. The tentacles wrapped around the wood, and Jarmo tried to push them away, but the creature was too strong.
Marion quickly realized that Jarmo was in trouble and fired another shot at the creature, hitting it in one of its eyes. The creature roared in pain and released its grip on the driftwood, giving Jarmo a chance to swim back to shore.
As the Sea Beast let out a deafening roar, Aisha, Jarmo, and Marion tried to dodge its incoming tentacles. Aisha and Marion took cover behind a large rock, while Jarmo tried to keep the creature distracted by firing his blaster at it. But it seemed that their efforts were in vain, as the Sea Beast kept coming at them with a relentless fury.
Suddenly, Marion had an idea. She remembered that she had a special device in her backpack that could temporarily stun the Sea Beast. She quickly retrieved it and activated it, aiming it directly at the creature’s eyes. The device emitted a bright flash of light, causing the Sea Beast to writhe in pain and confusion.
Seizing the opportunity, Jarmo fired his blaster again, aiming for the creature’s vulnerable spot. This time, the shot hit its mark, and the Sea Beast let out a blood-curdling scream before collapsing into the sand.
Panting and exhausted, Aisha, Jarmo, and Marion looked at each other in disbelief. They had just battled a Sea Beast and emerged victorious. But their victory was short-lived, as they realized that they had attracted the attention of the Shark Men, who were now approaching the beach in their submarines.
Without hesitation, the trio started running towards the nearby jungle. They knew that they had to find a place to hide and come up with a plan to continue their journey to the Temple of the Wind Harp.
As they ran, Aisha noticed that Marion was struggling to keep up. She had sustained an injury during their fight with the Sea Beast and was limping. Without a second thought, Aisha went back to help her, while Jarmo continued ahead to scout the area.
Aisha and Marion found a small cave that they could use as a hiding place. They quickly made a fire and tended to Marion’s wound. As they waited for Jarmo to return, they talked about their past experiences and how they had ended up on this planet.
Marion explained that she was a member of Bureau 07, a secret service within… well, that came up as a surprise to Jarmo and Aisha. They expected that Marion would say “Star Command”, but she said “ASTROCOHORS”.
“No, really!” Jarmo exclaimed. “They really did it?”
“That was to be expected,” Marion replied firmly. “After all the problems the space agency has had, this had to happen. This will be the case from next year. So starting tomorrow.”
“Wait,” Aisha interjected, “does that mean the organization has changed its name?”
“Yes, because of all the problems that have been going on lately,” Marion explained. “Besides, it has long been felt that STAR COMMAND sounds too terran for an interplanetary organization. ASTROCOHORS simply fits better.”
“At least literally,” said Jarmo. “Otherwise nothing changes. ‘ASTROCOHORS’ simply means ‘Starfleet’, just in GalStan.”
Aisha looked at him with mock severity. “Hey! Who’s the linguist here?” And to Marion she added: “And this Bureau 07 is what exactly again?”
“Bureau 07” was not known to everyone, but at some point the space organization had to recognize that it needed a secret service. A secret service that dealt with high-risk missions. Marion went on to explain that she had been sent to rescue Aisha and Jarmo after they went missing.
Aisha and Jarmo shared their stories as well. The Temple of the Wind Harp and all that. But they had never expected to end up in a situation like this.
As they sat in the cave, listening to the sounds of the jungle and the approaching Shark Men, Aisha, Jarmo, and Marion knew that they had to work together if they wanted to survive. They had battled a Sea Beast and escaped the Shark Men’s city, but their journey was far from over. They had to continue their search for the Temple of the Wind Harp, and they had to do it quickly before the Shark Men caught up to them.
As the Shark Men’s footsteps grew closer, the three braced themselves for the worst. Marion was still in severe pain from the sea beast’s attack, and they knew that they couldn’t outrun the Shark Men.
Jarmo frantically searched the cave for any possible escape route, but it seemed like they were trapped. Aisha tried to come up with a plan, but her mind was clouded with fear and uncertainty.
Just as the Shark Men were about to enter the cave, a sudden rumble shook the ground beneath them. The Shark Men looked startled and quickly retreated back to the ocean.
“What just happened?” Aisha asked, her heart racing.
“I don’t know,” Jarmo said, looking around in confusion.
Marion’s eyes widened in realization. “The Temple of the Wind Harp,” she said weakly. “The legends say that it has the power to control the elements. We must have awakened it with our presence.”
Aisha and Jarmo exchanged a look of disbelief, but they knew that they couldn’t waste any more time. They quickly helped Marion to her feet and made their way out of the cave. They could see it then. The beach where Aisha and Jarmo had found the stone tablet with the map had changed. A hole had formed, as if the sand had simply disappeared inside the planet. The walls of the hole sloped downwards. There was some kind of building there, a rectangular structure with an Obelisk on top.
“Look!” Aisha shouted, “The top of the obelisk!”
Jarmo took a closer look. Yes! The top of the obelisk was the slab of lyranium they had discovered and excavated. They hadn’t been able to lift it and assumed it was just too heavy. But that made it clear, they hadn’t just found a plaque, they had found this building. Was that really the Temple of the Wind Harp?
As they approached the temple, they saw that it was surrounded by a powerful energy field. Aisha reached out to touch it, but the field repelled her with a force that knocked her to the ground.
“We can’t get through,” Jarmo said, helping Aisha up.
Marion nodded. “We need to find a way to bypass the energy field. The temple must have another entrance.”
They searched the surrounding area, but they couldn’t find any other entrance. Just as they were about to give up, they heard a faint humming sound coming from a nearby cliff. They cautiously approached the cliff and found a hidden cave entrance. As they made their way inside, they saw a glowing crystal that emitted a soft blue light.
“This must be the source of the energy field,” Marion said, pointing to the crystal.
Jarmo examined it closely and saw that it was connected to a series of wires that led to the temple. “I think I can disconnect it,” he said.
Aisha and Marion stood guard as Jarmo carefully removed the wires. As soon as the last wire was disconnected, the energy field surrounding the temple disappeared.
They rushed inside and saw the ancient Wind Harp, a massive instrument made of crystal and metal. Aisha touched one of the strings, and the harp emitted a beautiful melody that echoed throughout the temple.
“We did it,” Marion said, her eyes filled with awe.
Suddenly the melody changed. She formed words that the three of them couldn’t understand at first.
“Uyu! Uyu!” the voice sang. “La! La! La! La! Hear what the voice has to say. Traveler who seeks the Wind Harp Temple, let me tell you that your search is not over yet, for this is not it. But much you have achieved by finding this place. So don’t give up! This place is a signpost. Four signposts point to the Temple of the Wind Harp. You have to find them all and then you will find the temple. Four signposts on four planets. Through the You can find signposts from planet to planet, and when you have all four, they will show you the passage to the temple.”
Aisha could hear Jarmo taking a deep breath. At that moment a compartment opened in the harp they had taken for the wind harp. A red crystal became visible.
“This is the first signpost,” the voice continued. “You will find the second on the planet that gets so much love from the mother star that life is hardly possible on it, and yet it exists. In a temple like this in the caves of Ruy’i Koolyan you will find the next signpost.”
Aisha took the red crystal from the compartment. It seemed to glow by itself. Marion looked around uneasily. She had expected that once the crystal was taken out, the temple would collapse. But that didn’t happen. The three were able to leave the temple.
They were even able to exit the hole where the temple lay. Only then did the ground tremble and, as if by magic, the sand rose and buried the temple beneath it.
“So the search goes on,” stated Jarmo Dorak.
Aisha gave him a silent nod and smiled.
“Hey,” Marion said, “do you still need help? Maybe my supervisor will let me go after what’s happened here. You could use a bodyguard. Well, at least if my leg is okay again.”
“Hm,” said Jarmo. “What are you thinking, Aisha?”
“Without her, we’d still be stuck with the Chardadon,” Aisha pointed out. “She is right.”
“Well then.” Jarmo turned directly to Marion: “By the time your leg is okay again, we may have found out what exactly the mysterious voice meant with these caves of Ruy’i Koolyan.”
They heard a noise and spun around. But this time it wasn’t an enemy trying to attack them, it was a small spaceship approaching.
“My friends,” Marion said, “our cab away from this place is here!”