The Team had finally found the Terra’kan and after the attack by the source (the giant underground desert worms) the entire Terra’kan group had departed for a safer location, bringing Buurski, Crix Vane, Kip Salvo, Kos, the Tarnished, and M@-33 along with them. They all traveled by night to avoid the desert heat, with the Terra’kan clearly being more adept at traveling across the grueling sand whereas the group of Rebels struggled, at times, to traverse the soft ground. One such Terra’kan, a young man named Mohkno, found extra delight in taunting the Rebels as he would periodically effortlessly skate by and flash a dirty look their way or spout off a jab at them. In fact, the group noticed that most of the Terra’kan seemed to look at them with dismay whenever one of the Rebels would happen to catch one of the Terra’kan looking at him.
As the group foraged ahead they began to see a glimmer of light on the horizon as night turned to dawn. Buurski, who of the Rebels seemed to have the least trouble making his way through the desert, pushed ahead to speak with the Terra’kan’s presumed leader, Taima, whom he had saved from the source earlier before their departure. Buurski asked Taima where they were going and why, and Taima responded by motioning that their destination was just a short distance ahead, a stronghold called “Feree Hold”. He told Buurski that they would have been there by now had it not been for the slow pace of his companions, and that the rest of the Terra’kan were frustrated because they felt they were being held back by having to travel with the Rebels. He told Buurski that it was there that the Terra’kan would have a discussion on whether to continue on with the Rebels or to leave them behind.
A short time later, which was fortunate since the sun had now peered over the horizon and the desert heat was beginning to become unbearable, the Terra’kan began entering an opening in the ground one at a time. The entrance was so small that the Rebels had no doubt they would have walked right past it had they not been traveling with the Terra’kan. Once inside, they were relieved to see the walkway and halls were made of stone, and it felt great to move along solid ground once again. The halls were illuminated by small lips that protruded along the walls with blue light radiating from within, and Kip investigated one such fixture to find that the blue light was emanating from stones that were hot to the touch. Too hot to hold, in fact, as Crix would find out after he tried to pick one up.
As they reached the end of the tunnel they all entered a large open room filled with Terra’kan, both those they had traveled with and others that had already been at the stronghold. As the Rebels looked around they noticed all the Terra’kan they had traveled with were wiping themselves down with clean, damp cloths. Assuming this was some kind of ritual, and wanting to respect their cultures, Buurski started to wipe himself down as well but, without having a cloth to use and using the underside of his cloak, he was getting raised eyebrows from some of the Terra’kan but they did seem to notice the effort he was making approvingly. Buurski motioned at the rest to follow suit, and they did, however Kip noticed Mohkno was nearby and since a clean cloth had not been handed out to the Rebels, Kip yanked the cloth that had been given to Mohkno out of Mohkno’s hands, which prompted them to immediately engage in a shouting match with one another. It was only a moment before Taima ended the argument with the booming sound of his raised voice.
After the altercation had ended, Taima went back to a discussion he had been having with an elderly woman. Buurski wandered over and Taima introduced him to the woman, whose name was Rosme’. Rosme’ referred to Taima as “Sha’al”, which Buurski assumed was a title, and informed him that she was the leader of Feree Hold. The spoke for a few moments and then Taima escorted the Rebels to an adjacent room where he said they would dine that evening. As they sat, much of the tension began to lift as everyone was enjoying their meals. Kip was sat next to a pretty young woman named Misky and they hit it off right away. Just a couple seats down, Crix was doing his best to hold off the advances of an older woman, without much success. As they ate, Kip realized that he was very thirsty yet there was no water in front of him. He mentioned something to Misky and she laughed as she grabbed pitched with a cloudy liquid inside and began to pour it in to his cup. The liquid, she explained was milk of the Ke’Ya (their presumed mounts), and Kip found it to be quite bitter but he drank it to quench his thirst, nonetheless.
As the plates began to clear, Buurski opened a dialogue with Taima, who was sitting directly across the round table from the Rebels, and asked where they would be going from here. Taima responded by asking if the Rebels knew what “Terra’kan” actually meant. They did not, and he told them the literal translation was “those who are of the desert”. So, he explained, that is why the presence of the Tierfon Outpost was so invasive to him and his people. Their incessant drilling and digging was affecting them at a much deeper level than the Rebels could possibly imagine. He told them that the Tierfon Outpost was actually built upon “Dory’s Spring”, and that when the Rebels first arrived the Terra’kan elders voted to allow the construction and watched, unbeknownst to the Rebels, as the Outpost was built and did not interfere with the construction. The elders had thought the Rebels’ presence would add security to Tierfon however, it turns out, they were wrong. The Rebels had been destructive, and had been drilling in to the heart of the desert and stealing its precious resources and prohibited one of the greatest sources of water in Dory’s Spring from reaching the Terra’kan.
The Rebels responded, in turn, by relaying to Sha’al Taima and the rest of the Terra’kan seated at the table that while they were of the Rebellion, they were not of the Tierfon Outpost, and that they wanted to get to the bottom of everything that was being done at the Outpost as much as the Terra’kan did. Taima took the Rebels to a room behind the dining area where there were several sacks piled high, and revealed that the contents of the sacks was the same as the spice the Rebels had been drilling for. Taima would not reveal to the Rebels what the Terra’kan used the spice for, but he did tell them that they acquired it simply by sifting the air and the sand to separate the spice out. Taima concluded by telling the Rebels he believed that they were different and they wanted to help, and that he had decided to take them to meet with the Terra’kan elders, the Ha’Kam. He told them they would depart the next day and that, for now, he needed them to rest and stay out of any conflicts.
The Rebels dispersed and Buurski left the group to meditate near the entrance to the stronghold and reflect on everything he had learned. It was there that Buurski was somewhat started by a voice behind him, and he turned to find Rosme’ standing there. Buurski asked her several questions about the Source and the relationship it holds with the desert and with the Terra’kon. He asked if the Source was attracted by the Force, to which Rosme’ told him that no one knew what attracted the Source. She did tell him about the legend of a man named Jake Corrall, who was said to have not only been able to tame the Source but to even ride the Source as a mount… but she said this was long ago and that no one really knows the truth of the legend any longer.
As Kip and Crix wandered the halls they were confronted by a few Terra’kan, one of which being Mohkno. He began to pick at both of the Rebels and then really started to hone in on Kip Salvo, with the two of them throwing multiple jabs back and forth as the confrontation began to quickly escalate. Eventually Kip’s words became too much for Mohkno and he challenged Kip to a (name?). Kip accepted without knowing what it was, and Mohkno told him they would engage in (name?) in 2 hours and he stormed off with his entourage. Buurski, Rasme’, and Taima had been attracted by the attention and Kip turned to find Taima’s face reddened as he explained to Kip that Kip had just accepted Mohkno’s challenge for them to duel… to the death. Taima explained that this was a sacred ritual, and that the combatants could only use a ceremonial dagger which Taima produced from his waste and handed to Kip, telling Kip that he could use Taima’s for the duel.
Kip and Mohkno met in a circular arena outside of the stronghold 2 hours later. Kip was a bit nervous since he was not familiar with the weapon he held in his hand, but knew he had a trick or two up his sleeve. The opening ritual completed and Mohkno did not waste any time, immediately lunging towards Kip with the blade outstretched right at Kip’s throat. Kip manages to dodge the swipe enough to keep Mohkno from slitting his throat, but the blade still connects and Kip found himself injured mere seconds in to the duel. A split second later, while Mohkno’s hand was still at neck-level on Kip, Kip reached within himself and gathered all of his hatred and anger he felt towards Mohkno into a ball of fire and imagined that ball of fire had set Mohkno’s hand ablaze. Mohkno immediately let out a yelp and dropped the blade on the sand, grimacing at the sudden searing pain he felt in his hand. He lashed out at Kip once again, this time firmly kicking Kip in the ribs with a skilled move that proved Mohkno was a more than formidable and deadly opponent, even without a blade in his hand. Kip reached down to grab the blade Mohkno had dropped and yelled out in a fit of rage as he pounced on top of Mohkno, driving both blades in to Mohkno’s gut and then ripping outwards with both hands. Mohkno ’s arms fell to his side and his whole body went limp. He would never move again.
The Terra’kon looked on at the result, shocked looks on their faces, yet the Rebels noticed that the eyes of the Terra’kon indicated there was more going on than the bloody scene in the middle of the room. Buurski reached out with the Force to a nearby Terra’kon and could hear him thinking… “The Source comes”… and Buurski yelled out to Kip to leave the arena immediately. It was only a few seconds later when the ground was rumbling so violently that many of the Terra’kon were losing their balance and falling over, and then suddenly a giant worm burst through the sand. The area had been cleared, however the worm was massive and could have easily consumed everyone observing the duel if they had still been in place. Everyone ushered back inside, where the solid stone floors would shield them from another burst if it came.
Once inside Kip handed both blades to Taima, both still covered in Mohkno’s blood, and Taima handed one back to Kip. He told Kip that Kip had earned the right to carry the blade, and that he had earned the respect of the Terra’kon at the Feree Hold, but that if other Terra’kon saw the blade on Kip’s hip he could expect more confrontations. He then told the Rebels to gather their belongings, that it was time to go. On the way out, Buurski went to Rosme’ to thank her for her hospitality and to apologize for the bloodshed. She responded by telling him that the desert was no place for the weak, and that Mohkno’s fate was his own doing. Just outside the stronghold the Rebels saw the Terra’kon loading up gear on the backs of two large, odd-looking animals… adult versions of the animal they had trapped a day prior. It was not long before the Rebels, along with a contingent of Terra’kon lead by Sha’al Taima, were on their way to see the Ha’Kam.
A few hours in to the journey the Rebels began to notice a commotion amongst the Terra’kon as they all started to look back the way they came. The Rebels, in response, looked back as well and were shocked to see a wall of tan and grey off in the distance, approaching them at a deadly pace…