Once they learned that Willy Boom’s coin was actually a holographic projector, showing a star map that led to the location of a vast wealth of treasure on Tantajoc V, the crew of the Embar set a course for the Halori Sector. Charl the pilot knew that Tantajoc V had a breathable atmosphere, a tropical climate, a bright sun, and slightly less gravity than the galactic standard.
When they arrived in the Halori Sector, comm picked up another starship’s emergency beacon for a short amount of time. Before 4Q2 could narrow down an exact location, the beacon went silent. With a bit more dabbling on the computer, the droid discovered that the distress beacon went silent because the ship it came from got sucked into a black hole!
As this was a relatively new black hole in the sector, it had only just begun pulling the nearby Ubuuga Cloud into itself, giving it a faint glow that would otherwise have make the black hole invisible. Thanks to Charl's expert piloting skills, the Embar managed to break away from the black hole’s gravitational grip, using the sublight drives to take them to Tantajoc V. But now they raced against time. In two days, the black hole would tear gas from the outer gas giant planets in the Tantajo system. This would cause a noticeable accretion disk, a region of super-heated dust and gas, that would form around the black hole. Then the terrifying power of the black hole would be all too visible from Tantajoc V. In another three days, the intense gravitational pull of the black hole would tear the tropical planet asunder, causing devastating earthquakes and supervolcanoes. So the crew had less than five days to find this treasure.
As the planet looked to be packed with dense vegetation and jagged cliffs, and sensors didn't pick up any signs of civilizations, the only safe place to land the ship was on the beach. When the hatch opened, hot humid air blasted the crew's faces. The thick, menacing woods and wild stone spires, and the surf that the crew could both see and hear foaming and thundering on the steep beach, the sun shining bright and hot, and the shore birds fishing and crying all around, hinted at the alien and deadly environment. Doctor Doyaahb begged to come along. Captain Ryku allowed it, as this would be the Mon Calamaari's first away mission. 4Q2 complained that the planet was a deathworld and he'd be happy to stay behind and be in charge of "not dying." The captain told him to stay and guard the ship.
From their landing zone on the beach, the crew made their way through the jungle to the general area designated by the coin. They crossed a marshy tract full of odd, outlandish, swampy trees; and ventured between two craggy peaks shining vividly in the sun. The uncomfortable heat and humidity, and all the bugs, proved to be more than a minor nuisance. Eventually they reached a long ravine between the piers and columns of torn and weathered rock; a shallow stream bubbled along before them. Three large birds that Charl identified as Croator were busy catching fish by the water. When the crew approached, however, the territorial birds attacked!
While combating the Croator, half a dozen arachnid-type creatures scuttled down along the cliff face to engage the crew as well. Captain Ryku identified these new foes as Raen Sovra, also known as "electrocution spiders." At the sight of the Sovra, the Croator turned and fled. The crew dispatched the spiders and then finished off the retreating birds. Ryku shook his head as he examined the dead spiders. The spread of the Sovra through the galaxy has been likened to that of a disease. They are attracted to any starships that land on the planet and often enter these ships, looking for energy on which to feed. In many cases, Sovra remain undetected on these ships when they leave the planet. Although some ships are destroyed in hyperspace when the Sovra consume more energy than the ship can spare, many of the ships are able to reach their destinations. The Sovra then, feeding on the massive amounts of electricity generated in a starport, breed, multiply and infect other ships.
Neo noticed movement up on the cliff, and spied a cave about fifty feet up. Ryku explained that since the Sovra are attracted to metal and electricity, it would only stand to reason that the lost Velmar starship (and its treasure) must be close. Tyron, the best climber in the party, took a length of synthrope and made his way up the cliff. Once he'd hauled himself into the cave, he lowered the rope so the others could follow.
Just as he was about to start climbing, Captain Ryku received a call from 4Q2 requesting his presence back on the ship. The captain headed back there immediately. On the way, a vaguely humanoid insect creature leaped with great speed behind the trunk of a tree. Ryku skidded to a halt and drew his pistol, but the figure had disappeared. He looked behind him over his shoulder, then continued to retrace his steps in the direction of the Embar. Suddenly the figure reappeared, and making a wide circuit, began to head him off. Now Ryku could make out more details: muscular bipedal limbs, compound bug-eyes, and two antennae. Ryku aimed his weapon at the stranger, who then threw himself on his knees and held out his hands in surrender. The bug-man explained frantically that his name was Jedidiah, a Velmoc and servant of Prince Denid, exiled heir to the throne of Velmar. The starship that brought them here contained a large portion of Velmar's royal treasury.
A sudden BOOM! in the direction of the Embar interrupted their conversation. Jedidiah bolted into the trees, gone once more. Ryku continued on his way, though now he was running at full speed toward the beach.