[Story] Story a Week 38

[[ Prompt: A story set on another planet

I almost always do SWTOR characters for these, but I’m not exactly sure what some of my characters are up too right now. So here’s Malavar exploring spooky ruins on a gloomy planet! ]]

Malavar’s ship captain and navigator looked out the front window and scowled. “What’re we doing here, again?”

Looking out himself, Malavar was almost inclined to agree with him. A steady, driving rain drove against the transparent surface, the sky an ominous grey. The trees’ boughs were tossed back and forth by relentless winds. But even if he was to return another day, the rains lasted for half the year here, just another forgotten planet to everyone else. Malavar didn’t know exactly why he had been urged here, but he had a good idea. And he certainly knew whose idea it had been.

Having another consciousness within your own was the most unsettling thing that Malavar had ever experienced, akin to having a rock in one’s boot that you could never remove. It might be less noticeable at times, but it was always there. And it wasn’t the first time either, though according to his research, it wasn’t exactly the same. That hadn’t stopped him from attempting to oust his unwanted guest in the same manner, of course. Days he had spent in meditation, even returning to the dark places on Voss, but it persisted. The presence in his mind was a living, willful thing, and it resented these attempts to eject it. Malavar had to believe that it had brought him here for its own ends rather than his own. But he had to admit that he was curious. The maps that he had found were scarce, but they suggested an elaborate city had once been built here, and its ruins still remained. That was likely what he — or his guest — was after.

After the captain had left the bridge, Malavar clicked on his communicator. He paused there, regarding the flickering image of Zamarra. They hadn’t spoken in so long. He couldn’t let her know what was happening to him, for one because she would worry. She had enough to concern her already. The other was that he didn’t want her to be right, that the darkness had seized hold of his soul after all. Malavar didn’t feel any different, but what was happening to him seemed beyond his control. How much further would it pull him before he could break free? He didn’t want her to be between them when it happened.

Frowning, he clicked it off again. Maybe after he’d found whatever it is he’d come for. He had little in the way of outdoor equipment, but he found an overcoat that should keep most of the rain off. The hood was large enough to accommodate his lekku as well. He asked the archaeologist to join him; he trusted the man a great deal more than some of the rest of his crew, and he would likely have useful information about the ruins. Any place they visited, he always had some fact or story about, sometimes tiresome but usually interesting, at least.

Though it was day, the heavy clouds and driving rain made it difficult to see anything, and their lamps only lit so far. They took shelter within one of the ruins, as good a place as any to begin their search. The presence within his mind was maddeningly silent — the one time Malavar wished it to make itself known, it did not. Had it only brought him here to waste his time? It seemed unlikely, but it was impossible to know for sure. Talos, the archaeologist, took images of the inscriptions on the walls, in order to study them later back on the ship. Malavar stood, listening for any hint, any whisper from within. When he was a young child in the camps, he remembered getting a sudden flash of feeling, that sense within him that there was something more. He hadn’t known then what it was, and sought to recapture it in order to figure out what it was. He felt similar now, searching blindly in the dark for a point of light to guide the way.

Then, uncertainly, it was there for a moment. It was further below them, hidden within the earth. They searched the crumbling, wet stones, pulling away the plants that clung to them. A doorway led further into the ruins, down a narrow staircase into the dark and unknown. Malavar picked up his lamp and entered.

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