Stardate 75774.2; October 09, 2398
Edited by Peter Bossley
Written by Chris Adamek
High above the delicate coral glades of Zirat, hell was being unleashed. Dark clouds roiled in the ominous sky, and sonorous cracks of thunder echoed deep within the treacherous depths of the distant storm. The angry seas washed ashore with incredible might, reclaiming the shores into its murky depths; driving rains flooded the glades, and powerful winds uprooted the broad-leafed palms with ease. Giant tendrils of vivid lightning arced between the billowing clouds…
Powerful typhoons were not rare occasions on Zirat. At any one time during the summer months, two or three—perhaps more—raging storms wreaked havoc on the wide-open seas. Many of the storms would drift to the south and interact with the lush archipelagos, but it was rare for such a powerful tempest to unleash its fury here. The unfavorable trade winds typically sheared the billowing clouds to pieces; a passing frontal system would sweep the storm away…
But not today.
The brutal, howling winds screamed death. Tree limbs were now lethal projectiles, impaling the floundering palms and killing anything in their path. The winds churned the seas, rattled the coral formations, and ripped flowering plants from the flooded sands.
A wicked, angry wind suddenly surged from a dark wall of ominous clouds in the distance. The intense rains whipped around the mighty gusts, gradually ushering a churning funnel to the seas. Plowing ahead without rhyme or rhythm, the waterspout spewed foam and fish and seaweed into the raging maelstrom. Increasingly powerful winds whipped around the immense vortex; thunder raged as lightning crackled, and a deafening roar fell upon the earth.
Sand and sea flew high into the dark, thunderous atmosphere. Shadow fell upon the coral glades, and nature’s wrath soon followed, tearing the delicate features from the earth and casting them aside like toys.
* * *
The twin suns of Zirat climbed slowly above the crimson horizon, the warm golden rays shedding first light on the night’s destruction. The white sandy beaches were covered with broken palms and branches, and dead fish littered the shore. The coral glades were weathered and beaten, many of them covered with seaweed and other debris. An immense gray whale lay beached on the distant shore; it was not dead, but the day was long, and the beating sun, combined with the whale’s incredible weight, would ultimately take its toll. By nightfall, death would become it—and the predators would rejoice.
Erosion had also proven a mighty nemesis. The typhoon’s ceaseless rains and tidal waves had not only reclaimed more than a meter of beachfront, it also destabilized the sand and rock formations further from the shore. As the ashen sands shifted in the waning hours of the night, so too, did the cliffs near the shore. Some had collapsed, others merely shifted, but they were all of them weak—and as the day progressed, gravity did its job effectively…
Many of the mighty stones settled into place, but one particularly storm-ravaged area suffered a far more destructive fate. Over the years, floodwaters had angrily rushed through the caverns below, eroding the walls until finally, this mighty storm brought about their demise. There, beneath the pale violet skies of Zirat, the entire cave had collapsed, creating what would one day become a sunken forest. But this was no ordinary forest, for at its heart was a treasure beyond compare.
Already, the rains had revealed the tips of three spires—great ivory monstrosities that arced inward like the tusks of a mammoth… And from deep within this buried monument called the voice: “Seek me out…”
Megan Reinbold bolted upright in her bed. Her skin and clothes were damp with cold sweat, and her beating heart thundered in her chest. One would think a flurry of confusion clouded the woman’s mind, but as she concluded the experience was little more than a dream, the thoughts running through Megan’s mind were crystal clear: “I intend to…”