Treasure Hunt

As the wind began to blow even harder, he rewrapped his scarf to better protect his nose and mouth from the sand. If there weren’t rain soon, the whole world might blow away. Even with his goggles, it was hard to see much of anything. Not that there was much to see; the compass on the right lens was the only thing marking his direction and keeping him on the right path.

“Captain?” The voice came over the piece in his right ear.

“Yes, Sam?”

“Scans are spotty in the storm, but we think we’ve detected one or two life signs 150 meters in front of you.”

“Thanks, Sam. I’ll keep my eye out.”

Damn. 150 meters would put him right on top of his destination. He had hoped to get this before anyone else found out about it. Now he needed to be prepared for whoever might be waiting for him. He gripped the hilt of slug thrower to reassure himself. Most bandits, if they had any defenses, had energy shields. Slug throwers were the cheapest counter, even if they did sometimes jam.

His visibility was still limited to a meter or two, but he hoped that would work for him as much as against him. Stone and metal started appearing above the sand or in spots where the sand had been blown away. Out of caution, he slowed his pace. Eventually, he stood before a pair of steel doors, closed against the elements.

It took a few moments to locate the operating panel. He entered the code he had found, drew his gun, and stood to one side as the doors slid open. No attack came. But a voice did echo forth.

“Come in, Captain. You are in no danger.”

He peered around the corner. A figure in a grey robe stood several meters from the door. “Who are you?”

“I am the keeper of this place. Now please, come in. The sand is beginning to pile up.”

He lowered his gun – but kept it out – and stepped through the doors. Immediately, they slid closed and silenced the wind.

“What do you mean that you’re the keeper? This planet has been abandoned for centuries.”

“Has it? I did think it seemed rather quiet lately.”

“Are you joking? Did you really not know?”

The keeper smiled. “Of course I knew, but that has nothing to do with me.”

“You called me ‘Captain.’ How do you know who I am? Some sort of vision you had? Or a prophecy?”

The smile grew bigger. “What odd ideas you have. No, I listened to your communication with your ship.”

“Oh.” He looked around at the room he was in. Large, but mostly empty with only a few benches here and there. Perhaps it was a sort of entry way? Several doors led beyond. “What is this place?”

“Come now, Captain. You did not come here without knowing what this was, did you?”

“I heard there were artifacts here. Some priceless. Others, powerful. But my intel said nothing about a keeper. What do you keep?”

“This,” he gestured around “is a storehouse, of sorts. I imagine there are items you might find… useful. Mostly it is a library. This building houses the knowledge of a past civilization. I am charged with its preservation.”

“And keeping people like me from taking anything?”

“Just so.”

“But why? If the civilization is gone, why preserve this place?”

“It is my charge. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

“So I leave, or you’ll kill me?”

“Oh nothing so dramatic. And besides, there is no need for you to leave. I will show you this place. There may be things you can take without removing them. The collection must stay intact, but knowledge is shareable.”

He considered for a moment, then triggered his comm. “Sam, everything is alright. Someone here wants to give me a tour. It may take awhile, but it’s safe. I’ll call if I need something.”

“Very good, Captain.”

“Okay, lead the way.”

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