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In the Desert

<From Banshee Boardwalk>

Revan was hoping to get rid of his sweat and get somewhere a bit more cooler but instead found himself in the heat of a sweltering sandy desert. As if that wasn’t bad enough the sun was still high in the sky and despite the tracks he couldn’t really see anyone around, what water and food he had wouldn’t last him long out here. He began following the footsteps, when they finally he forked he chose right. The sand was not something he enjoyed at all, it got into his boots and seemed to cover everything, nevermind when the wind blew it got in his eyes.

Just when he was wishing for the Green again despite its monstrosities he stepped over a dune to see a small town. Buildings made of the same colour as the sand made up a small settlement but Revan could see people as well as Camels and some other strange large furred creature with horns. He immediately made his way over hoping someone could help him.

As he approached a number of folk turned to look at him, instead of rushing to help however they seemed to run away, in a few short moments most of the town was running from him. Some charged up with overly long weapons and pointed them at him.

“Come no closer!” Yelled a man that Revan guessed considered himself the closest this town had to a soldier.

“I am merely seeking assistance with direction, do you perhaps have a map?” Revan asked.

“Your kind aren’t welcome here, they bring only pain and suffering.” He said angrily.

“My kind?” Revan asked not understanding.

“Primes, they bring only trouble with them wherever they go, we wish to remain free of such problems.” 

“I could really do with some water.” Revan said hoping they would at least give him that.

“Lower your weapons immediately!” Came another voice causing Revan to glance up.

“I said lower your weapons or you will be arrested.” Said a woman in grey armour surrounded by the white armoured soldiers of the Empire.

The civilians lowered their weapons as soldiers stepped forward to relieve them of weapons. The woman in grey combat armour stepped forward extending a hand.

“I’m Colonel Salvel, welcome to Mos Sil, what brings a Prime out this way?” She asked him.

“Just passing through, was hoping for directions and some water.” He said not sure how he felt about more Imperials after what happened at the Green.

“Such things aren’t free out here, but I do happen to know who you are Revan.” 

Revan had already almost fully unsheathed his weapon when he noticed they had not raised their weapons. “Why aren’t you shooting?

“The Greens can be a hard and difficult place, I’m quite sorry if your last run in with the Empire wasn’t so good, I however see it as a chance to be the one to mend such mistakes.” “Welcome to the Endless Dunes, this verse is under Imperial control and as such we try to govern things in a more calm manner, of course every verse has its problems.”

“Ok, I’m listening, what is the Empire doing here, what are you doing here?”

“This verse is largely uninhabited but has been fairly useful in the Empire’s production of advanced technology that as you know far advances anything else in the Omniverse, we gather the raw resources here and the people that live here benefit from the technology we can offer.” “As for why I’m here personally, that’s a little more difficult to explain, please come this way and we can talk over some cool liquids.”

Revan sat at a table in the local cantina doing his best to ignore the Stormtrooper guards as he listened to The Colonel. She appeared somewhat nice but he knew she must have been through some battles to be at the rank she was.

“I’m here to discover a lost artifact, something buried in the desert long ago, we don’t have much to go on except sightings of some strange structures in the desert that no one knows where they came from.”

“What kind of artifact exactly?” Revan asked interested.

“A mask that is said to control the very desert itself, on its own it sounds like nothing but reports have come in that there have been a lot of strange disappearances in the area, so the Empire has decided to send me in charge of this small detachment to investigate.”

“So what does this do with me?” Revan asked sipping water from a glass.

“Well you would be earning your keep, plus from your previous journey we can summarise you are heading for Coruscant next, it would be easier for you to get in if you were accompanying us.”

“It sounds dangerous.” Revan said bluntly, if there had been disappearances then clearly there was more than just sand at work here.

“I could also offer you some Imperial credits for your help, I’m sure you’ll need them in Coruscant this time.” 

“Alright I’m in but how are we getting there?”

“By Bantha.” She replied with a smile.

Banthas journeyed across the Dunes as Revan did his best to not think about the raging sun, the Imperials offered him whatever he wanted short of shade to rest in, eventually sunset began to befall them and the air went from red hot to cold that began to shake his bones much like the Frozen Fields once did.

“You should consider getting advanced armour, it really helps support body temperature in extreme conditions.” She said.

“Isn’t your exposed face cold?” Revan asked.

“A bit but I could always cover it if I wanted to.” She said before holding up her hand to stop the Bantha caravan.

“There it is.” She said, Revan looked and saw a large sandstone pyramid reaching high into the sky.

“That’s actually quite amazing, where did it come from?” Revan asked.

“Some say Omni built it personally, some say the first beings in the Omniverse built it and used to live here, either way it was here before the Empire, and we take pride in knowing everyone.”

The journey continued to the Pyramid where the Banthas were let loose and the Stormtroopers began unloading various types of gear that Revan didn’t recognise in the slightest. One Stormtrooper that appeared higher in command approached the Colonel.

“Pyramid is sealed Ma’am what do you want us to do?”

“Breach it.” She commanded

An explosion rocked the entrance to the sandy pyramid blasting a hole to form the desired entrance. The Stormtroopers aimed their blasters forward as the dust cloud swept over them. As the dust settled the sand covered troopers moved into the room. Revan coughed as he and the Colonel entered into the pyramid structure, inside however was just empty walls. 

“Not much here.” Revan said wondering why there was no obvious way from here.

“Clearly not the welcoming type, blow another hole!” The Colonel shouted annoyed.

Another explosion breached the wall revealing a corridor covered in gold and hieroglyphs that almost blinded Revan as he waved an arm in front of him to block the light while his eyes adjusted. 

“That’s what we wanted, move in.” The Colonel ordered as Revan and the Stormtroopers pushed inward.

Revan saw pictures on the wall showing pictures of a strange child looking being, Revan knew this to be Omni. He didn’t know if the Empire knew who Omni was but he chose not to ask right now, the Imperials seemed to want to push onward more. They came to two tunnels, one went up and another that headed downward.

“We go down, that’s where it will be.” She said leading them all down further into the depths of the pyramid. 
Golden walls soon turned into a crude rock cavern as the lights that the Imperials brought with them was all that allowed them to see. Soon they found themselves in a large room full of a number of golden objects, it might have been a storage room but at the far back was a raised platform where sat a strange looking box.

The Colonel moved toward it with haste, stepping up the steps of the raised platform she stood over it and gazed upon it. Revan stepped up beside her and also looked upon it, it had symbols and markings and at the top was a picture of the mask that was spoken of, some sort of long eared canine like creature with a snout.

“The mask must be in here.” She said running a gloved hand along the aged metal box.

“Ma’am we’ve found the mask.” Came the voice of a trooper.

Revan and her both turned to see where they were, surely enough as they walked over there was a glass display case. The mask was black with gold eyelines and a blue winged insect on the forehead. 

“Smash the glass and take it.” She ordered.

One Stormtrooper hit the glass with the butt of his rifle but the glass didn’t break at all. Another aimed his weapon and fired and the glass seemed to absorb the blast.

“What’s going on?” The Colonel demanded to know.

“Ma’am force seems unable to breach the containment vessel.” The Stormtrooper said hiding his annoyance far better than his superior.

“Revan, here’s your chance.” She said ordering him to do it for her.

Revan stepped forward toward the golden glass box, he pulled out his sword and tried to hit the glass with his hilt but it did nothing. 

“Step back.” Revan said as he swung the sword at the glass, it bounced off without a crack.

“Prepare some more breach charges.” The Colonel ordered furiously.

“Wait, perhaps force isn’t the answer here.” Revan said stepping forward and placing his hands on the glass.

The glass seemed to warm to his touch, the glass began to melt as ice melts to heat. Soon there was no barrier between Revan and the mask and he was able to grab in and grasp it. Pulling out the mask he looked at it closely, the mask itself still had a warm touch to it. Next thing he knew a Stormtrooper grabbed it off of him and immediately shoved it into a metal container.

“Thank you Revan, our task here is complete we will head back to the settlement and prepare for our journey to Coruscant.” The Colonel said smiling satisfied that she got what she wanted.

“We leave now, seal the entrance on our way out.” The Colonel lead the troopers toward the exit.

Mos Sil’s sandstone buildings stood against the backdrop of an increasingly darkening sky. Revan had never seen a sand storm before but had heard of them and right now it seemed one was going to wash over the settlement. Salvel and the other Imperials seemed to care very little though he did catch them glancing at the sky every now and again.

“That storm seems rather fierce, didn’t you say that mask was said to control it?” Revan asked himself feeling nervous about its effects.

“We were not given orders to use it, it is to be stored for transport tomorrow, besides a little storm is quite normal here.” She replied reassuring him.

“We’ll be staying in the town hall, the buildings here are all upgraded with large metal shutters that keep out the sand until the storm passes.” She explained.

“I take it everyone’s already inside.” Revan replied, she nodded to answer his question as they stepped inside.

A bit of sand from their late arrival filled the doorway but the rest of the building was spotless, Stormtroopers took the containment box into the back and many more stood guard around the wide building that was square with a domed ceiling. 

“I advise you get some sleep Revan Noctis, these storms can sometimes go for a few hours.” She said showing him to where bunks had been set up.

“This is sentry forty seven, this storm is really bad, it’s just our luck we had to stay here another day.” The Stormtrooper said over the sentry comm channel.

“Yeh and just our luck we gots to stay out here in the storm too, I swear my cooling systems going to break down tomorrow.” The other trooper complained.

“Squad two quiet down, after today well be stuck on Coruscant and then you’ll be complaining about how crowded it is, try to keep a sense of adventure.” The Sergeant said back over the comm.

“I bet sentry fifty three would love stay here with all the desert women wouldn’t you fifty three?” Sentry forty seven asked receiving nothing in reply.

“Sentry fifty three don’t ignore me comeon.” forty seven complained.

“Maybe he fell asleep.” The other trooper said with a yawn.

“Sentry fifty three is everything alright respond?” The Sergeant ordered still receiving nothing in reply.

“Squad two help me find fifty three.” The Sergeant said annoyed.

“Understood Sergeant, comeon they should be just over here.” Forty seven moved toward the other squads former location through the fierce blinding storm.

“Hey Sergeant is that you?” The other trooper asked seeing a silhouette stepping toward them.

“Sir do you hear me?” Forty seven asked confused.

“This is Sergeant Falkeve, I’ve found squad one, they’re dead.” Said the Sergeant over the comm.

Both Stormtroopers raised their weapons realising the being in front of them was neither their Sergeant or Squad one. The figure pounced forward with arms outstretched as they opened fire.

“Revan get up!” Salvel ordered shaking the robed warrior awake.

“You said I could sleep.” Revan complained keeping his eyes closed.

“I’ve lost track of multiple sentry teams around the town, we believe we are under attack.” She said sounding extremely worried.

Revan’s eyes opened quickly as he realised how desperate she sounded. “How long ago?” 

“Just now we received word from one of our Sergeants that he heard blaster fire and had already lost another squad, we just tried to comm him back but the storm is making communication difficult.” She said stepping back as Revan stood up.

“Any word from the civilians?” Revan asked concerned for their safety.

“They must all be inside sleeping still, we don’t need a panic.” She explained. “Besides the storm should be dying down soon.”

“Wake up the local town leaders, prepare your men.” Revan’s first thought was maybe something had followed him but had he really caused that much trouble?

As Revan approached the front door two troopers stood in front of him blocking him from it. “I need to go out there.”

“Sorry Sir but it’s safer inside and we can’t risk the sandstorm damaging our equipment inside.” One of the troopers said.

“It’s too dangerous out there Revan, even for a Prime, you’re still Human.” Salvel said wishing it really was as simple as sending the Prime out there.

The lights began to flicker drawing all to glance at the ceiling, a moment later the lights of the hall went out leaving them in darkness. Salvel drew her blaster ready for battle.

“This Hall has multiple back up generators, there isn’t anyway the storm knocked them out, something is coming.” She said as the troopers brought out some barricades to use as cover.

“Ma’am those doors are sealed tight, surely nothing can get through them.” One of the troopers said failing to sound confident.

Just then the sound of banging against metal could be heard, surely something was on the other side of the door. The troopers aimed their weapons gripping them tightly, Revan drawing his blade unsure of what was coming. Locked in the unpowered room they could do nothing but prepare for battle as the sound of banging increased more and more. Finally it stopped along with the sound of wind, the storm was over.

“Maybe it was just the storm after all.” A trooper said before all were drawn to a new sound behind them.

Revan spun around to see the floor giving way, collapsing into a black sinkhole. Next thing he saw was decayed hands reaching up from under the ground like something out of the Pale Moors. Decayed heads started appearing next, blank holes where the eyes once were surveyed the room as if scanning for signs of life.
The Imperials fired their blasters, red energy streaking through the corpses. 

Revan charged forward slashing downward with his sword cutting the wrists off of one before stabbing downward through the head of another. Somehow they were under attack by the Undead. These horrific creatures continued to attempt to climb up even as Revan hacked at their limbs, one hand even managed to hold on and crawl up of its own accord but was blasted by Salvel.

With a gurgle the oncoming assault stopped, and the body parts of multiple Undead lay strewn across the floor around the pit. The Imperials surrounded it as Salvel reloaded a new charge into her weapon.

“Blasted things must have clawed their way through the ground from outside, no doubt killed our sentries, we need to get that door open and regroup with the rest of our forces.” She motioned for two troopers to find some explosives.

“Get the Comms on and order the town awake, this is an emergency!” She ordered.

Stepping outside the town’s streets and doors were all partially clogged with sand and it must have buried the bodies cause no sentries remained. Quickly though the rest of the Imperial garrison emerged from other buildings accompanied with people wielding various tools for sand clearing, Revan assumed waking them would no longer be necessary.

“You think that was it?” Revan asked unsure if what just happened was somehow normal.

“If the reports from the Moors and Green have taught me anything it’s that the Empire should not underestimate the capabilities or resourcefulness of our enemies.” Salvel said not believing it was safe.

Revan was about to sheathe his sword when he spotted another black robed figure stepping through the street toward them with its head down. The Imperials not in the mood for a second cloaked stranger aimed their weapons and the people raised their tools.

“Who are you?!” Salvel yelled towards the figure.

The figure stepped forward a bit more before coming to a stop. Three Stormtroopers approached the being steadily and carefully willing to fire at any sudden movement. 

“In the name of the Empire you are ordered to answer my question!” Salvel yelled angered by the lack of control she had.

The figure slowly glanced up at Salvel, a decayed face staring upwards, empty eye sockets like two black orbs furiously focused forward. The Stormtroopers closest fired their weapons as red blaster shots tore through the robe and flesh. The creature roared defiantly before turning into a wave of sand that then moved in between the troopers before reforming. The creature grabbed one of the troopers and seemed to drain the life from him, the armour of the soldier seemed to age, cracking and splintering and turning a sandy brown. 

The other two continued to fire but an arm slammed down upon the trooper to the left before a stream of sand slammed into his helmet appearing to enter in through his breathing filtration system and suffocating him. The figure looked back up at Salvel this time with an expression of joy and continued walking towards them.

“All units fire!” She ordered firing her blaster pistol.

Revan watched as the thing shrugged the blasts off and continued walking, only once its legs were hit did it seem to fall to the ground and continue crawling, it was clear the creature was somehow regenerating. Revan sword at the ready waited for the creature to approach. Strangely it seemed to eye Revan with more of a look of curiosity, it was as if it was wondering what it was he was going to do.

Sand streams seemed to shoot out from the figure covering the street in more vision blurring debris but Revan chose to rush forward and stabbed the creature through the head pinning it to the ground. Revan held his sword there as the figure had ceased any form of movement, it was then he pulled it out satisfied the job was done. It was then that he felt something grasping at his cape. He looked down to see the creature pulling itself up. Revan raised his sword ready to cut down when he was suddenly blinded and muffled by sand, he felt it fill his mouth and nose and even ears, he found the sand strong enough to hold his arm in place, He was unable to move but in his head he heard a deep echoing voice.

‘Who are you?’The creature seemed to ask.

‘I am Revan Noctis.’ Revan said unsure what else to really add.

‘You are the Prime, as a gift I spare you this day, but tomorrow you and your company will fall.’ Revan’s vision seemed to return for a few moments before he was forced to close his eyes from the searing pain, the sound however was soon made up of cries asking if he was ok.

“Revan, it’s gone, are you ok?” Salvel asked shaking him and hoping he was alive.

“I’m ok?” Revan said opening his eyes to Salvel amid a clear blue sky.

“I think we beat it.” Salvel said unsure.

“No, it talked to me, told me it would be back tomorrow, what was that thing?” Revan asked not having expected it to be that powerful.

“I’m unsure what it was but we need to move out now.” Salvel began issuing orders preparing the Imperial forces to leave.

Revan didn’t fail to notice it wasn’t like the Empire to run, usually they had the advantage and usually they pressed that advantage. It was like Salvel knew something she wasn’t telling him and he could easily guess what it was.

“Be careful Coruscant will be needing it soon enough.” She commanded as Stormtroopers brought out the containment vessel.

“Salvel, there is something you’ve failed to tell me.” Revan said holding back his anger for the moment.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said mostly ignoring him.

“You knew what that creature was, and you know where it came from and why it attacked us.” Revan felt like an idiot he had allowed himself to be used.

“That thing knew I had unlocked the mask for you, it wants it back.” He said noticing the Colonel was now focused on him.

“The Empire controls this verse, and yet it’s as wild and chaotic as if it never was, some things we were never able to claim.” Salvel turned to face Revan’s gaze.

“We had orders to retrieve the mask no matter the cost, we knew there would be... defences.” She then crossed her arms.

“There’s no backing out now, once we reach Coruscant you’ll be free to leave.”

“If we make it there, this thing is going to hunt us.” Revan said not sure if it would stop even if they left the mask behind.

“That’s why we’re leaving now, once through the gate nothing would dare follow us.”

“I sure hope you’re right...” Revan said deciding that he’d make it to the gate even if they had to leave the mask behind.

They set off through the desert slowed at first by only those carrying the supplies but soon the desert storms picked up again restricting their journey. Luckily Salvel carried something that allowed them to know which way they were going but Revan didn’t appreciate the sand in his mouth. 

“We’re almost there!” Salvel yelled believing all this had been worth it. 

As they approached the gate Salvel had spoke of extra forces waiting for them, upon arrival however the only thing that remained were twisted decayed corpses in tanned armour being buried by the flow of sand in the air.

“Ma’am our back up is all dead!” A trooper yelled out alerted that this had gone all wrong.

“Don’t worry all we have to do is step through the gate.” She said stepping forward toward the structure.

Revan was about to step up to when he heard screaming from behind him, twisting around and drawing his sword he again a figure silhouetted in the sandstorm, this time however he knew it was. Red lights flashed as blasters lit up the storm firing towards the creature as it stormed towards them. Streams of sand began wrapping around troopers and casting them into the air. 

Revan charged slashing his sword down upon the creature who merely grabbed it and used it as a means to slam Revan down on the ground. More screaming could be heard around him as the troopers were killed off by the creatures abilities. 
Revan shot flames at the creature causing it to growl in discomfort.

‘Prime, you may not die but I will surely make you suffer if you continue to attempt to stop me.’ The thoughts once more returned to Revan’s head.

“No, I cannot let you slaughter them all!” Revan yelled this time able to speak.

‘Then you must be removed.’ A stream of sand reached for Revan wrapping around his legs.

 “No!” Revan had fought worst than this before surely, he stabbed his sword down onto the stream piercing it to the ground before firing another ball of fire in his attacker’s face. 

The creature seemed to emit a piercing yell and its abilities faded if only for a moment, then it used its actual body to reach out and grasp Revan with its arms. Revan saw the black pits where its eyes once were, it opened its mouth and there was nothing inside but darkness until the sand came out filling his airways with its coarse bad tasting grains. A shot hit the creature in the back distracting it for a moment but then it continued. Then its head exploded in a bright flash of red light that blinded Revan for the longest time.

As his vision returned he pushed the creature’s arms up but already its head was reforming like none of its body even truly mattered. He tried to struggle free but the arms were too strong. Salvel came up and kicked the creature causing it to look angrily at her and exchange one arm on him to grab at her, with a bit of pure Omnillium in his hand he smacked it against the creature clearly damaging its form.

“I don’t know what you are but you’re unwanted!” Revan said taking his blade and stabbing it through the creature’s reformed mouth and down into its torso. 

The creature broke apart blowing away as sand in the storm. Revan got up and helped the Colonel up as well. She nodded at him in her own form of thanks and she then looked around for the mask, the containment vessel lay in the sand as a trooper attempted to open it.

“Trooper what are you doing?” Salvel asked confused.

The trooper turned to look at them as it reached out a decaying arm, Revan knew the trooper had become a part of the creature’s wrath and struck down killing it. The storm then cleared up and all of the carnage around came to a silent end.

“Ok, we just take it back with us now.” She said grabbing the containment vessel herself.

A cloud of sand reappeared in the form of the creature’s head as it rose over them. Revan tugged the Colonel as both ran for the gate. The heat of the desert sand could be felt pressed against his back as they dived through.

<To Finster Einsatz>

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