Once upon a time, in a solar system far, far away, there was a
beautiful planet called Arnessk. Green trees, blue oceans and a golden
temple that touched the sky. In this temple, Arnesskan Priests
sacrificed weird alien goat-critters and chanted a lot. According to
legend, between the chanting and the goats the Priests kept the Scarrans and Peacekeepers singing "Kum-ba-ya" together for 500 cycles.
Then bad guys dropped three Darnaz Probes
from the sky. These small, dark devices plummeted to the ground,
forming the Darnaz Triangle around the temple area. The Probes affected
Arnessk's "magnetics," which instantly rose to intolerable levels, driving away nearly all life. The Priests and their temple vanished.
No one knows who dropped the Probes. (This is just me playing a hunch, but I'd check into any species calling themselves "the Darnaz.")
Ever since that day thousands of cycles
ago, Arnessk has endured magnetic "summers" during which the planet's
temperature and magnetics are too high for most species to survive. I
was there when the magnetics were climbing toward lethal levels, and it
was eerie: The colors were leeched out of things, the temperature was
hellish, and I would have lost a foot race to a wet noodle.
Although the magnetic summers actually last most of Arnessk's year,
there are rare, brief intervals when the magnetics drop. That's when Interion archeologists visit and dig for a few weeks before the magnetics rise again.
During my visit to Arnessk, Vella, the chief Interion archeologist, was
looking high and low for the probes. She told me that if she could
uncover all three Darnaz Probes, place them in the correct triangular
formation and reactivate them, the planet's magnetic summers would
cease and Arnessk could return to its former beauty. On the other hand,
Noranti argued that Vella could just as easily want the Probes to use as a terrible weapon against other planets.
The only things that everyone agreed on, I guess, were that the Darnaz
Probes were immensely powerful doodads and that it sure would be nice
to find 'em all. Which, as usual, led to a lot of people shooting at me.
JOURNEY LOG REFERENCES
What Was Lost, Part 1: Sacrifice
What Was Lost, Part 2: Resurrection
STARBURST TO ANY NOTE