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Flight from the Energy Command

Flight from the Energy Command

(C) 1996 by Dansen T. Stahl

A Dr. Roi Danner, Hyper-Physicist Story

Based on concepts from the Perry Rhodan Series

It had begun simply enough. Five hyper-physicists from around the known galaxy were being transported to Eglin-8 for a hyper-physics convention. They were Kuls-Tat, an aran specialist in the bio-physics of teleportation; Ul-Khrest, an Arkonide specializing in the adaptation of the Akonide linear ftl drive to Arkonide needs; Dr. Henry Li, perhaps the most famous terran hyper-physicist after Dr. Kalup; and Beloris-Kin, an Akonide specialist in hyper-temporal-physics. There was also one other Terran. Strangely, although he was one of the best hyper-physicists in the known galaxy and was known throughout the galaxy few people realized that he was a hyper-physicist. Dr. Roi Danner, explorer and hero, was now, at the age of 143, trying settling down to the ivory tower life. As usual, however, fate had other plans for Danner and his compatriots.

It happened during one of the rest periods that the Terrans observed with their linear ftl drive. Although they could run the engines for much longer periods of time this eventually showed up as hyper-spatial fatigue in the engines. Rather than risk failure at an inopportune time Terrans simply gave their engines a little down-time every 20,000 light-years or so. An unfortunate side-effect of this was that the Terrans' ships were vulnerable to attack during these down periods. Of course, in the vastness of space what were the chances of being intercepted by the enemy? If the enemy were Akonides -- fairly good.

They had only been out of semi-space about ten minutes and tests had been run to ensure that there were no aberrant radiation or gravitational fluxes in the vicinity when they were attacked. Popping out of semi-space within four kilometers of the Hirohito-16 a relatively small spherical ship with flattened pole immediately began firing a green ray at the Hirohito. Caught by surprise, the crew didn't even have a chance to increase the shielding that they had lowered just moments before. The green rays penetrated every level of the ship and paralyzed every person aboard instantly. With positronic accuracy the beam remained focused on the Hirohito as the akonide ship approached at breakneck speed. Then, just at the Akonide ship seemed about the smash into the Hirohito it stopped. In less than a kilometer it slowed from .7c to .3c, the Hirohito's cruising speed. Moments later suited humanoids left the air-locks aboard their ship and traveled to the terran ship.

Their suits were obviously insulated from the effects of the paralysis beam. They had no trouble boarding the Hirohito through its air-locks despite the eerie green luminance. Once aboard, the Akonides split into two groups. One of the groups, consisting of two men, headed in the direction of the engineering deck. The other group, consisting of five men, headed in the direction of the living quarters. They apparently knew the Hirohito's design well for the wasted no time in reaching their destination. Once there they pulled out hypo-guns and injected each of the five hyper-physicists with a drug that put them to sleep almost instantly. Next, they each pulled a small packet off of their suit belts and placed it on the hyper-physicist that they had just put to sleep. They pressed a small button on the pack and stood back. a second later the pack seemed to almost explode around its attachee. Almost faster than the eye could follow a black film sped from the packets all around the hyper-physicists. Less than two seconds later the hyper-physicists looked like basalt black statues. The Akonides waited for a few minutes then the lights shut off and the artificial gravity followed. Once free of the constraints of gravity each Akonide grabbed his hyper-physicist and moved with him back to the airlock. They were met by the two members of the other group.

During all this time not a single word had been said. The Akonides had known their jobs and executed them without comment. Five minutes later the akonide ship was speeding away from the Hirohito. It was not until the Akonides transitioned into semi-space that the paralysis beam was shut off. For a brief moment the crew of the Hirohito had a chance to move and begin to speak of the Akonide attack then they knew nothing.

The one hundred or so members of the crew felt nothing as their ship became a tiny nova in the vast blackness of space.

It was several hours before the physicists awoke and found themselves in a typical lounge area of a small Arkonide (in this case Akonide) ship. Ul-Khrest had been the first to awaken. Danner, who, in deference to his youth and more robust terran metabolism, had obviously been given the largest dose of whatever sleep drugs the Energy Commandos had used, had awakened last. By the time Danner emerged from the darkness of sleep the other four physicists had had a chance to discuss their situation with each other. Between the use of the paralysis ray, the dark-skinned appearance of their captors, and the type of ship that they were in there seemed little doubt that they had been kidnapped by Akonides.

Since the Akonides had, for millennia, relied on their star-spanning network of matter-transmitters, they had little need for ships. Oh, there were the rare private yachts but ships of any size were possessed only by the government, under the control of an elite military group known as the Energy Command. It was their job to deal with the rare threats to Akonide planets or to plant matter transmitters on worlds where the Akonides didn't already have them. Beloris-Kin had few doubts that they were aboard one of the ships of the Energy Command.

"What I don't understand", he continued, "is what they're doing kidnapping us. The Supreme Council of Akon has forbidden the Energy Command to initiate aggressive acts against either Terrans or Arkonides. They must be a rogue unit but there haven't been any cases like that in over five thousand years."

"Perhaps your government is engaging in some activities that they are not telling you about.", Dr. Li offered.

"Covert operations?" Even the words were strange to Beloris-Kin. Although the phrase was in the Akonide vocabulary it was so rarely use that he spoke the words with an Arkonide accent having, essentially, learned the phrase during her time with them.

"It seems the most likely idea.", Kuls-Tat spoke up. "As much as I hate to admit it my own race has a decided tendency towards such actions, infecting worlds covertly then charging them for 'discovering' and manufacturing the cure."

"That's horrifying!" Despite knowing that his own race, and the Energy Command in particular, had done similar things in the past Beloris-Kin's horror at such actions was obvious on his face.

"That it is. That was how we made our fortunes in this galaxy. Of course, there was always the possibility of exposure but we quickly developed methods for dealing with such problems and they worked very effectively until Administrator Rhodan and his Terrans came along. With our dark secrets exposed to the galaxy our economy almost collapsed. To this day there are millions of Aras who despise Terrans for that alone. My family was, fortunately, not in the plague business so we survived the Great Depression much better than most. Even so, my own father almost disowned me for coming to this conference."

"I've heard some of the Great Aran Depression", Ul-Khrest said, "but I'd never heard what caused it. Still, I suppose that your fate is better than it might have been. The Robot Regent did not take kindly to such offenses."

"No, it didn't. It's funny. We have Administrator Rhodan to thank for both our loss and our salvation."

"You probably all know that there are a number of scientists from around the galaxy who have given up their citizenships in the United Stars Organization to become Akonides. I have heard rumours, rumours that I never believed until now, that not all of them become citizens voluntarily."

"But we've never heard of such kidnapping!", Dr. Li said excitedly.

Beloris-Kin shook his head. "If the Energy Command is engaged in officially-sanctioned covert acts I don't doubt that they would be as ruthless at covering their tracks as Kuls-Tat's people were and that would mean..."

"That the crew of the Hirohito is dead." Danner finally entered the conversation.

There was a moment of silence before Beloris-Kin spoke again. "What do we do now? Don't we have an obligation to escape?"

There was a general nodding of heads and everyone looked at Danner. His reputation as a galactic daring-doer, if a little outdated, was still enough to make him the logical choice for leader of this small group.

He got up and began walking around the lounge. His attitude was inquisitive. With an expert eye he examined the walls ceiling and floor of their "prison". It took only seconds to spot the most likely location for three video monitors. There might be more of them but he didn't have time to worry about them. As fast as an Akonide ship could travel it wouldn't be many more hours before they found themselves in the Blue System.

"Yeah,", he said, "we're supposed to try to escape... but how? I mean we're only physicists. These Energy Commandos are trained professionals. I doubt we could escape from a Terran crew let alone a crew with another couple of thousand years of technology under their belt. I'm not saying it's impossible but let's not get our hopes up. Our more likely chance to escape is to wait until we're on an Akonide world then use a matter transmitter to escape to the Terran embassy."

"Oh, come on! Is this the great Roi Danner speaking?", Dr. Li spoke up. "Surely you've been in situations like this before. Don't you have any ideas at all?"

From the drawer of a desk in the room Danner took several pieces of writing foil. "The 'Great' Roi Danner has been retired for a while now. I don't do daring escapes or participate in thrilling battles anymore." He turned to Kuls-Tat, "Do have any gum on you?".

Kuls-Tat looked confused for a moment then began fumbling around in the packet she carried on her belt. "Here! I hope you don't mind louk-berry. It's all I have."

"Actually, I'm really not to fond of louk-berry. The combination of salt and sugose is not a taste I've acquired but I need something to chew." He began pacing the room again. Quickly unwrapping the stick of gum he put it in his mouth and began chewing. He made a sour face but didn't spit it out. "Now, where was I? Oh yes, I'm a hundred and fourty years old and I've retired from the adventure business."

Just underneath one of the air vents he reached up to his mouth and pulled off a little piece of the gum he had been chewing. He took this, split it then stuck each piece on one of the foil sheets that he was carrying. "I'll contribute what help I can but the Akonides have, for the most part, stayed out of the galactic community. I don't know much about dealing with them and I know even less about dealing with their Energy Command." He then stuck the writing foil over the ventilation grill. The air blew it but the gum held it to the wall.

With one video monitor covered he moved over to the lounge's video screen and covered the monitor built into that with another piece of foil and gum.

"I think our best bet is to wait and watch. On the other hand, I don't like being spied on. I can't do anything about their audio monitors but at least they won't be watching me. He placed a third piece of foil over the last camera then returned to the desk by the door.

He seated himself at the desk and rearranged his seat so that he ccould face the door of the lounge. Then he reached over and, with his ferronan pocket tool kit, he began taking it apart.

The others were puzzled by what he was doing and Li looked about to ask when Danner motioned him to be silent. To break the oppressive silence Danner began speaking to Beloris-Kin, asking him what his people were likely to do to them.

Beloris-Kin admitted that he had no idea. Doubtless, they would try to put them to work recovering some of the lost technology of the Akonides. There were, however, numerous isolated bases maintained by the Akonides throughout the galaxy. Since he had never, to his knowledge, worked with a kidnapped scientist he suspected that they would end up at one of those, where no one would ever hear from them again.

While he was speaking the time passed, about four minutes. The door to the lounge opened. Four of the physicists looked toward the door. Danner took his eyes off the lamp for a second to look as well.

When the door had fully opened two Akonides in uniforms entered the room. They had a blazing blue sun on the left breast of their uniforms and each had one of those wonderfully efficient Akonide thermo-pistols in their hand. Except for Beloris-Kin this was the first time that any of the hyper-physicists had seen an Energy Commando. Danner, of course, had seen photos but it wasn't the same. Here they were, the elite of Akon's military. Even in this brief moment of contact their famous diffidence to "inferior" races was almost a physical force. Even Danner was struck by it and he had to wonder if some of the effect was psionic. The Arkonides had been able to imbue their elite minds with expanded mental powers through the Ark Summia. Atlan, the current arkonide emperor, was one such individual. Although he was not known to possess any unusual psionic abilities there were legends of other Arkonides with expanded brains who did. Beloris-Kin hadn't shown any evidence of such powers but perhaps the Akonides had a way of inducing them as well. Danner had to admit that it would give them an edge on other races although he didn't intend to let it influence him.

Without a word to their prisoners the first, the superior of the two, if the military insignia were reasonably similar to Arkonide insignia, walked on into the room while the second Akonide stopped at the door to the lounge. To that point there had been no way to know if the Akonides knew of Danner's reputation. It soon became apparent that they had, in some manner, determined that Danner was the center of possible resistance. While the Akonide at the door covered all the other scientists with his weapon the higher ranked commando aimed his weapon at Danner. As he did, Danner tried to palm a piece from the lamp that he had just taken apart. His attempt at subterfuge failed. The first Akonide didn't speak. He simply motioned, with the tip of his thermo-beamer, for Danner to put it down. After Danner opened his palm and dropped the piece on the desk the Akonide motioned for him to move away from the desk. When Danner was about two meters from the desk the Akonide reached over and picked up the piece. He took his eyes from Danner for only a second to look at it. He didn't recognize the piece so he shrugged and closed his palm over it. he returned his attention to Danner.

With the threat from Danner neutralized the Akonide finally spoke. "Udettim!" ("The foil!"). The second Akonide headed for the main viewscreen in the lounge.

As the Akonide neared the monitor Ul-Khrest faced the Akonide and spoke with the full arrogance of an arkonide military officer, "Why are you holding us prisoner? You have violated your government's agreement with the Arkon Empire and that will not settle well with us or our allies."

After so many years of dealing with Arkonide arrogance Danner was surprised and pleased to hear an arkonide officer imply that there was actually someone in the universe that they considered their equals.

The Akonide, on the other hand, was so impressed that he ignored him in a way that only Akonides have perfected.

Beloris-Kin asked the same question, however, he added a nice reference to the Supreme Council instead of the Arkonide Empire, for obvious reasons.

The Energy Commando had been about to tear down the writing foil. He stopped himself to turn to Beloris-Kin. "Be silent, bimmul! You have collaborated with our enemies and have no more rights in our eyes. You are judged glepot and will suffer the fate of these jemmix-grubs!"

Beloris-Kin turned pale for a second then red. Anger rose in his face. Small wonder, a bimmul was something akin to a bastard in english. Glepot Danner wasn't sure of but it sounded kind of like the Arkonide word glipod which meant something like "outcast" or "unclean". As for jemmix, well Danner definitely didn't know about that but he got the idea. When Beloris-Kin began speaking again it was in high formal Akonide. The Arkonides had a similar use for the language. They used it when they took an oath to do something particularly nasty to you, usually to see you executed in a rather painful manner.

"I don't know your family soldier but I do know mine. I trace mine back through fifteen thousand years of Akonide history. We have been involved in many of the advances of our race. Ilfa-Nor helped design and build the great Blue Shield that surrounds our stellar system. Jaimt-Fol gave his life fighting the Veltra who attacked Trabbe. My own brother, Hetta-Kin died during the Energy Command raid on Arkon 3. I myself have been chosen by the Supreme Council to lead the work to recover our ancestor's lost secrets of time-travel. My family has earned the right to judge whom we would consider out equals and we consider the Terrans our equals. The Supreme Council, at least the sensible members, have declared them lepot! You are in violation of a Supreme Council edict and I judge you and your companions makkat! Believe me when I tell you that my family is very influential with the Supreme Council. You will suffer the fate of all makkat!"

The Akonide paled at this but recovered his color after a moment. "You are glepot! You have no right to judge and no power to enforce. Be quiet or suffer the consequences!" He turned and angrily moved to rip the writing foil off the monitor. He never quite reached it. Just before he touched it Danner discretely pressed a knob on the side.

As he did there was a bright flash of light. From the monitor. The second comando, who was looking directly at the monitor, caught the flash full in his eyes! His hands went to his eyes. No longer thinking about the thermo-pistol in his hands it fell from his hand. At the same moment the second Akonide took his eyes off of Danner to look at the flash and his companion.

That was the mistake that Danner had been waiting for. With a practiced move he pushed off from the wall and shot at the distracted commando.

The commando noticed Danner's move out of the corner of his eye and tried to bring himself around to meet him. In the split second that he tried to bring himself around he realized that he'd never get the thermo-beamer around in time. He tried to block with his left arm. Danner slipped past it and delivered three powerful blows to the Akonide's belly, neck, and gun yielding arm.

There was little question that the Akonide was a powerful man. The blows Danner delivered a Mounder would have felt. He dropped his gun but collapse. With Danner so close he tried to hit back. His blow was awkward and painful to himself. He had forgotten the piece from the lamp which was still in his hand. It's sharp edges bit into his palm. As he reeled back from two more blows by Danner he realized what Danner had been doing with the piece. It had been a distraction. As the commando's vision turned black he cursed Danner and all Terrans in his thoughts.

After the last blow Danner watched the Akonide hit the floor. Already losing consciousness the commando's body hit the floor limply but his head still bounced off the floor fairly hard. Seeing no reaction from the Akonide as his head hit the ground Danner dismissed him as a danger for the immediate future. He turned to face the other Akonide but his caution proved unnecessary. The moment that the Akonide had gone blind Ul-Khrest, who had not been looking directly at the monitor, moved in on him. Throwing his arm around the officer's neck he applied a ter-choora choke hold. The Akonide resisted for a moment then fell unconscious. Ul-Khrest held on a little longer but let go a little before Danner would have judged the hold fatal.

As the Akonide collapsed to the ground Ul-Khrest stooped to scoop up the fallen thermo-pistol. Seeing the situation was in hand at that end of the room Danner scooped up the thermo-pistol of Akonide near him. He motioned for the physicists to remain silent and stuck his head out the door quickly. In the momentary glance down the corridor before he pulled his head back in he saw no other Akonides. Risking another, longer and more certain glance he confirmed that no Akonides could be seen. He motioned for the others to move into the corridor. Ul-Khrest, having a thermo-pistol and military experience moved out first. Beloris-Kin moved out last. Danner remained in the room long enough to search the body of the higher ranked Akonide. A moment later he pulled an ID card out of the Akonide's pocket. Putting it in his own he left the lounge and joined his fellow prisoners.

Once in the hall Danner closed the lounge door and joined Beloris-Kin. "Beloris-Kin, we need to get to the command room of this ship as quickly as possible. Do you think you could lead us there."

He nodded, "I think so. My brother brought me aboard one of these ship about fifty years ago. I think the design is pretty much the same."

Danner was about to ask how he could remember such a small detail from fifty years ago then he remembered that Arkonides (so, presumably, Akonides as well) had eidetic memories. "Good, why don't you take the lead with Ul-Khrest? I'll bring up the rear."

Again he nodded. He turned to move forward, hesitated, then turned back to Danner. "Are they dead?", he asked.

"Our guards?"

"Yes."

"I doubt it. I know Ul-Khrest left his alive. I hit mine pretty hard but I didn't aim for any particularly lethal locations and the man was strong, very strong. Unless one there was a freak accident he should recover in time. That's one of the reasons we have to move quickly." Danner was about to leave it at that but he thought better of it. "That was quite the performance you put on for our guards.", he said to Beloris-Kin, "It distracted the guards completely. I have to ask, though, did you mean it? the makkat business and all?"

"I did. We Akonides don't like it but we can't continue in our belief that we are the sole race of import in the galaxy. We must learn to accept that we can have an important, but not supreme, place in the galaxy, if we chose to accept it. The Energy Command and some of the Supreme Council think that they can keep the galaxy from passing us by killing off those who threaten the order. That is not a hyman decision...

"Hyman?", Danner asked puzzled.

Beloris-Kin concentrated a moment trying to think of an appropriate translation. "Umm... 'moral'. No, 'responsible'. Perhaps a little of both. It is not a responsible decision. My brother was an Energy Commando and they have served us well through the millennia but if they become makkat by their own actions so be it."

"'Responsible', eh? I like that. Thanks. I needed to be sure where you stood."

No matter where you are on a one hundred meter diameter ship it rarely takes long to reach the central anti-grav shaft nor did it in this case. The other physicists waited for Danner to reach the shaft. When he did Beloris-Kin gave him a look. Danner nodded his head toward the shaft. Beloris-Kin was about to step in when something made Danner check behind them. Years of experience had trained him to react almost without thinking to certain combat situations. Almost before he realized it he had fired the thermo-pistol in his hand down the corridor behind him.

A shot fired almost simultaneously by one of the Energy Commandos behind came so close to him that it melted some of the material of his shirt. His own shot seemed a bit more accurate as one of the three Akonides clutched his chest and fell to the ground. He didn't wait for the other two Akonides to correct their aim and jumped to the other side of the corridor.

"Go!", he yelled. "Get into the elevator! It will provide some protection." While he shouted to his companions he fired twice more.

One of the shots hit another Akonide. The beam bored through the Akonide's upper left arm in a millisecond. He dropped the pistol he was holding. Danner knew that he wouldn't be feeling the pain yet but, without the muscles and bone of the upper arm the Akonide simply couldn't hold the pistol anymore.

Danner couldn't tell where the Commandos' thermo-pistols were firing. He knew they were missing him. He only hoped they weren't hitting anyone behind him. He was setting to aim a shot at the last Akonide when he saw a hole appear in the Akonide's head. He turned to find Ul-Khrest braced for a shot. Ul-Khrest's military training came through once more. If he got the chance Danner would have to try to find out if he had been a marksman in the Arkon Navy. With the three Akonides no longer an immediate threat the two of them turned and ran for the anti-grav shaft.

The other scientists were already in by the time he stepped into the car. Beloris-Kin wasted no time pressing the button that would bring them to the third deck. Danner hoped that the general alarm hadn't been sounded yet.

Without perceptible motion the platform that they stood on moved upward. Gravitic forces were so well balanced that they knew they were moving only by the changing lights on the sides of the shaft. It was little more than three seconds later that they found themselves motionless before a shaft opening. The light on the side of the shaft indicated that they had arrived on level three. They got out of the shaft quickly and moved across the hall. Directly in front of them was a set of double doors. This, they knew, was the critical time. They stood before the entrance to the control room of the akonide ship. Whether or not they had any chance to escape from the Akonides would probably be decided in the next minute.

While Ul-Khrest got the physicists to stand to the side of the doors Danner walk up to the door and slid the ID card that he had taken from the Akonide that Ul-Khrest had choked into submission. Even Danner felt himself holding his breath! This was a critical moment. If the card didn't have the clearance to open the door, if the command crew had been alerted to their escape and instituted security precautions then they were in a lot of trouble. Danner could only hope that, with a crew this small and elite, any officer's ID card would be enough to get into the control room.

He was right. The door opened! Danner wasted no time. Even before it had opened wide enough to walk through he had stuck the thermo-pistol through the opening and fired. Unlike arkonide or even terran thermo-pistols akonide thermo-pistols were incredibly efficient. They radiated less than one one-thousandth of a percent of their energy from their beam. This meant that humans didn't see the beam. All they saw was the effect that the beam had when it hit its target. In this case, three Akonides saw their main view screen split, suddenly, from one side to the other.

They had all been sitting at their control station when this happened. Suddenly, molten bits of fiber optics, liquid crystal, and exotic ceramics sprayed across them. They jumped from their chairs trying desperately to brush the burning fragments from their bodies. One of them, less fortunate than the others, caught his foot while trying to get up. He stumbled then struck his head on his control panel as he fell. After hitting the floor he didn't move. The other two had gained their feet and ran to get as far away from the screen as possible. It was then that they noticed Danner.

While the screen was spraying molten matter across the control room the door had continued to open. Danner had walked in and the others had followed. Ul-Khrest was the last in the door and pressed the panel to close it. Seeing that Danner had the Akonides under control for the moment he used his thermo-pistol to destroy the control panel for the door and do a crude job of welding the door shut.

The confusion of the Akonides could not have been more complete than when they looked up to see four aliens standing before them on the control deck of a ship of Akon's military elite. The fact that two of the them actually had thermo-pistols actually had less effect on them than their simple presence.

Danner spoke in High Arkonide, the language used by the Akonides. "Lay on the ground, hands in front of you! Since I was the one kidnapped by you I'm not too concerned about your lives. If you do anything other than what I tell you to do I will put a thermo-beam through your snotty little heads. If you have any doubts as to my determination keep in mind that I'm a Terran."

The Akonides may be the snobs of the galaxy but these two weren't stupid or suicidal. They wasted little time getting on the floor. A non-degenerate Arkonide could be bad enough. They had, after all, been the imperialistic dregs of the Akonide Coalition and their ancestors had certainly shown few compulsions against destroying entire planets that annoyed them. Terrans were something else entirely. A young and energetic race they could be your worst enemy or your best friend and, sometimes, even both at the same time. They might not be superior to Akonides but neither were they inferior... and the Energy Command hated them for that. Once on the floor they were stripped of their pistols and ID cards. When that was accomplished Danner ordered them to get up, grab their unconscious companion, and settle themselves in a far corner of the control room. Ul-Khrest stood watch over them. The pistol in his hand was a death threat awaiting either a misstep on their part or the command of the Terran.

"OK, gentlemen, we are halfway there! Time is still of the essence, however, so let's get to work! Beloris-Kin, find the matter transmitter controls! I seem to remember that these Energy Command ships have a transmitter on their control deck. We need to get off of this ship and that's the quickest way to do it. I'd like to tune into a terran transmitter station but I don't have the codes and I don't think our friends outside are going to give us the time to work something out. That means we'll probably have to go to an akonide location and signal for help from there. If we do have to go to an akonide location pick as many out of the way transmitters as you can find and start randomly cycling through them! Go ahead and transmit to them! When we're ready to go we won't know where we're going and, hopefully, neither will the Akonides. While you're doing that I'll rig up a little going away present for our friends. Kuls-Tat, Dr. Li... I'm afraid there's not much for you to do except watch for signs of the Energy Command trying to break into this room."

They both nodded. Neither of them had much combat experience and both were more than willing to let someone else do the heavy thinking.

In all it took about eight minutes for Beloris-Kin to do his job. Using the Energy Command's own clearance levels he located about a hundred fourty robot stations maintained by the Akonides to supply raw materials for their worlds. It was a simple enough matter to start randomly transmitting to these locations. The amount of energy involved, on the other hand, was staggering. If the rest of the ship didn't know about the break-out yet they soon would. It took another six minutes beyond that for Danner to finish what he was doing. What it was he didn't say but Beloris-Kin could tell that it involved the Linear Light Drive. It was at almost exactly this same time that Li noticed a bit Ul-Khrest's welding melt off.

"Danner! They're here! They're burning through the door!" He kept glancing between Danner and the door.

"It doesn't matter! We're done here. Li, Kuls-Tat, Ul-Khrest, bring the prisoners over here. We're leaving!"

One of the Akonides decided that this would be his moment to act. As he helped his unconscious companion up he "slipped" and fell to the ground. He made a big deal of being tangled with the unconscious man.

Ul-Khrest simply pointed the thermo-pistol at the Akonide and fired!

In that same moment the Akonide's shirt melted and his flesh began to burn. He looked down at himself terrified. It took a few moments to realize that there was no hole in his chest, that he was still alive. He had second degree burns but he wasn't dead.

Ul-Khrest adjusted the setting of the thermo-pistol back up to a lethal setting.

The Akonide knew that the only way to adjust it had to be up and he knew that he had just used up his warnings. Gritting his teeth he got to his feet and helped his companion lift the third Akonide and walk over to the matter transmitter gate.

"We will have twenty seconds to get through.", Beloris-Kin said.

Danner nodded. "Let's go!", he replied.

Fifteen seconds later he stepped through, the last of the group.

Thirty five seconds later the door to the control room was pried open. By the time the Energy Commandos got to the transmitter controls two more transmissions had occurred to random locations. Seeing no one in the room they quickly shut down the transmitter and tried to determine where their prisoners had gone.

And when that happened the energy shunted from the matter transmitter to the little surprise that Danner had rigged up for them...

Since time is quantized it can be stated with some certainty that matter transmission takes time to occur. In human experience, however, the amount of time is so minimal as to be inconsequential. Thus, the moment the physicists and their prisoners walked into the matter transmitter gate in the control room of the Energy Command they walked out of a matter transmitter gate in a destination an unknown distance across the galaxy from the Energy Command ship.

The moment that he stepped out of the gate Danner went into action. "Li, look around for a computer console! Try to find out where we are! Ul-Khrest, Kuls-Tat, you may want to find a room where we can leave our prisoners and they can't cause us any trouble."

The uninjured Akonide prisoner finally found his tongue and spoke up, "What did you do to our ship, Terran, and what do you plan to do with us?"

Danner looked at them, "You are our prisoners. Depending on how things go we'll either take you with us when we're rescued and you stand trial for kidnapping and whatever else you've done or you'll go back to your own people and the Solar Alliance and, very likely, the Arkon Empire will seek to extradite you for your crimes. As for your ship I rigged it up so that, when the matter transmitter stopped drawing off energy from your generators your semi-space generators would kick on. The navigation program was set to run your ship through the nearest uninhabited star."

"What!" Both of the conscious Akonides were stunned and angered. "You destroyed our ship?!? There were fifty men aboard that ship murdering terran scum!"

Even though Danner had expected that kind of response there was something about the arrogance of it that he wasn't expecting. It triggered something inside him and caused something that he didn't normally allow to happened... he lost his temper!

Later, the physicists with him would testify that they never even saw his hand move. Never-the-less, a blink of an eye later Danner was holding the Akonide off the floor with a hand firmly wrapped around the Akonide's neck. His eyes blazing with anger he spoke, "You tried to kill off the Earth at least three times. Your schemes have killed millions of terrans and arkonides and destroyed dozens of ships. You yourself probably just killed the crew of the Hirohito. You've shown a single-minded ruthlessness that I hope to God we Terrans never emulate and you have the balls to calm me 'murderous scum'!".

Danner's silence was probably even more terrifying than his speech. The Akonide dangled in his hand his dark-complexioned face turning purple from lack of oxygen. They could all see the war that was taking place in Danner's soul as he fought the urge to strangle the life from the Akonide. Then, suddenly, it was over. Danner's face calmed, his hand opened, and the Akonide collapsed to the floor, gasping for air. As the purple faded from his face and neck the physicists could see the red marks where Danners's hand had throttled him. They all knew that these were bruises that would not fade quickly.

Danner looked at the Akonides, "If you'd thought about it you'd have remembered that your ship would be traveling through semi-space. It would have only minimal contact with our universe. The trip through the sun will inconvenience it and it will take them a while to figure out how to escape the hyper-spatial plasma sphere that they'll probably find themselves in but I doubt very much that they will be destroyed. I don't take lives needlessly, unlike some people I know.". He turned back to Kuls-Tat. "Please, get them out of here, Now!"

Kuls-Tat nodded. The burnt Akonide now had to stumble along helping both of his companions. Fortunately, the nearly-strangled one was motivated by fear to get away from the terran devil.

The moment they were out of sight Danner collapsed a little bit. The battle with himself not to kill the Akonide had taken a lot out of him. He had held himself together as long as the Commandos could see him but, the moment they were out of sight he could give in, a little, to the down side of his anger. He only allowed himself the self-indulgence for a moment, however. They still needed to escape from this Akonide base. He looked back at the matter transmitter gate then at Beloris-Kin. "I'm sorry I lost my temper, Beloris-Kin. When you let your superior attitudes drop you can be pretty decent guys but those Energy Command guys really burn me. They kill off entire worlds to suit their sense of being in the universe then really believe that they're better than the rest of us. I may not be much better than them but at least I've felt remorse when I've had to kill someone."

"My friend,", Beloris-Kin put his hand on Danner's shoulder, "You are not alone in your feelings. Don't forget that I just declared them makkat. Even though my brother was an Energy Commando I have little love for their conscienseless actions. Every culture has its scions. I fear that, for some time to come, the Energy Command is ours. It is over now and you have proven yourself the better man so let's concentrate on the problem at hand. How are we going to be rescued if we don't even know where we are?"

Danner looked at the Akonide and a smile came to his face. "I have a plan, my friend, and I hope that you are more familiar with akonide matter transmitters than I am because I think we're only going to get one chance with this."

"Don't worry about it. I've assembled quite a number of transmitters in my days. What do you want to do with this one."

"Well," he said, getting down on his knees and removing an access panel, "here's my idea...". With that he launched into his idea and the two hyper-physicists began to work.

"Danner! Wake up Danner! I think the prisoners are escaping!"

Danner, after decades of often dangerous life, never slept very well. His dreams, such as they were, tended to reflect what was going on around him and, when he wasn't dreaming, his sleep was light. Thus, the moment he heard the word "prisoners" he was awake. The cobwebs cluttering his mind tore quickly in the adrenaline rush that had activated him. "What happened?"

It was Kuls-Tat. Danner didn't normally find aran women very attractive but, just for a second, he saw something in her eyes that reminded him of a woman he had once loved. Then the dream-like moment was gone and the memory receeded back into the recesses of his mind. "I... I was walking through the corridors when I think I saw one of the Energy Commandos down the hall. I didn't know what else to do so I hid on the other side of the corner from him and waited until I thought he was gone. I came to you as quickly as I could!"

"You did the right thing. The Energy Commando are professional killers. You never want to confront them unless you have to. Now, do you have any idea how they might have escaped? Ul-Khrest was supposed to be on guard duty. Have you heard from them?"

Kuls-Tat shook her head, "I've got no idea. I'm not even positive that I saw them."

Danner patted her on the shoulder as he got up. He knew that it was a very terran thing to do and the Ara, who normally shunned contact with others, might object to it but all the human races in the galaxy seemed to find physical contact in moments of stress somewhat soothing. He found it soothing even if Kuls-Tat might not.

Kuls-Tat, however, didn't seem to mind at all. She was scared and it showed. She knew the score: trapped in an akonide base with a couple of akonide killers running around loose. Physical contact with a Terran, especially one who might get her out of this mess alive was the least of her worries.

"I think you probably saw it. Even under this stress I doubt that you've started seeing things and I half expected this might happen. Keeping the Akonides alive was a risk but I don't like to kill unnecessarily. What we need to do now is figure out what he, or they, were doing and where they were going." Danner was thoughtful for a moment. "Tell you what! I'll go and check out Ul-Khrest. Perhaps they left a clue in the room where we were keeping them. While I'm doing that find Beloris-Kin and show him where you saw the Akonide! Perhaps he'll have some ideas on what they were up to. If I don't get hold of you first page me on the intercom!"

"Very well, sir." Kuls-Tat's voice was firmer than a minute ago. Now that she had something to do she had something, however little it was, to push some of the fear into the back of her mind.

Danner was right behind Kuls-Tat leaving the room. He jogged down the corridor to the room where they had decided to hold the prisoners. He had a bad feeling about Ul-Khrest. The Energy Commandos might have taken him prisoner. They might have escaped by some exit they didn't know of. They might have but Danner doubted it. A few moments later he knew he was right.

As he rounded the corner he saw Ul-Khrest on the ground. The position he was in didn't suggest that he was sleeping. Quickly, Danner kneeled beside him and examined him. There was no breathing. He didn't feel a pulse in the neck. A quick look at the rest of the body didn't show any blood or burns. A discoloration around the neck, however, suggested strangulation. The body was still warm. In fact, Danner wondered if it might be warm enough. He rearranged the body, pulling the arms down to Ul-Khrest's side he pulled his head up and pushed the back of it down straightening it as much as he could. Then he covered Ul-Khrest's mouth with his own and began breathing into his mouth.

So far so good! The neck hadn't given unnaturally when he had adjusted it so it seemed unlikely that it was broken. The air filled Ul-Khrest's lungs so his larynx hadn't been crushed. He breathed five more times then knelt up and began pressing on Ul-Khrest's chest with the palm of his hand. Four sharp presses and he returned to the breathing. He kept this cycle up. It wasn't very long before he heard Beloris-Kin's voice on the intercom calling for him. He ignored it and continued with his CPR. Beloris-Kin called again. Again Danner ignored it, concentrating on Ul-Khrest.

A minute after that he heard footsteps coming down the corridor. He sincerely hoped that it was Kuls-Tat coming down the corridor looking for him. Beloris-Kin would have been nice as well but Kuls-Tat was the one with the medical training that might save Ul-Khrest's life, if it could still be saved.

It was Kuls-Tat and Beloris-Kin that turned the corner. Seeing the situation Kuls-Tat immediately knelt down beside Ul-Khrest's body and pulled a little device out of the pouch all Aras carry on their belts. It was a small device, about seven centimeters in diameter and looking very much like half a ball that had been squished a little. She put it to Ul-Khrest's large forehead, flat side to the skin, and examined the symbols that flashed across its tiny screen. When she looked up she caught Danner's eyes. "There's a good deal of neural activity left. I think you got to him in time. After you finish your next round of breaths stand clear. I'll open his shirt and try to restart his heart.

Danner nodded, finishing a round of heart massage.

Beloris-Kin looked on anxiously. There may have been some things he wanted to ask be now didn't seem like the best time for them.

Then Danner finished his round of breaths. Kuls-Tat was just finishing unsealing Ul-Khrest's clothing and spreading the sides of the shirt to either side of his body. Danner knelt clear of Ul-Khrest's body and watched as Beloris-Kin placed the neural monitor on Ul-Khrest's chest. She moved a small panel and touched a button. There was a faint hiss as the device exuded a clear substance between it and Ul-Khrest's skin. Then Kuls-Tat knelt back as well.

A few seconds later Ul-Khrest's body convulsed slightly.

Kuls-Tat looked at Danner and explained, "It's an external electrical stimulator. It just tried to start up Ul-Khrest's heart. Judging by the reading... yes! That was what he needed! He has a rhythm now that the stimulator can monitor and adjust. It is a temporary measure but it is somewhat like what you Terrans call a pace-maker."

"What was that gel that the stimulator emitted?"

"For best performance it is best if the stimulator not move yet, at the same time, maintain good electrical contact with the skin. The gel serves both functions."

"Handy device. Do you always carry one around with you?", Danner asked half-jokingly.

Kuls-Tat nodded, "It is part of the basic medical pack that all Aras carry with them. We don't relish the thought of dying before we have to so we carry with us a compact medical kit. That particular device can also monitor and test neural activity, as you saw. I also carry an excellent, if limited, selection of drugs for a wide variety of purposes and a medical micro-computer. Would you like to look at it?"

Danner had seen the pouches on other Aras and had been trained in their function by Division Three, the Solar Alliance's intelligence branch, but he had never had been voluntarily offered a chance to examine one before. "Unfortunately, we don't have time. We have some escaped prisoners on our hands." Danner stood up and opened the door of the room where the prisoners had been kept. Inside he could still see the Akonide who had been injured when Danner had destroyed the main viewscreen aboard the Energy Command ship. If the other two had left him behind then he must have been far more badly injured that he had thought. "Kuls-Tat, when you get a chance, I think you'd better check our remaining prisoner. I think he may be hurt worst than we thought."

She looked up. "They just tried to kill Ul-Khrest and you want me to look after him?"

Danner was suddenly tired as he thought about all the deaths he had been witness to and the callousness towards death that so many akonides and arkonide races showed. "I don't think this one was involved in Ul-Khrest's attack. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. I think that there have been enough deaths for now."

It was clear that Kuls-Tat didn't agree but she nodded her acknowledgment. "If I'm going to have two patients then they might as well be in the same room for now. Can you two move Ul-Khrest onto the bed in this room?"

While they did Danner returned to the next most important issue. He looked at Beloris-Kin, "Do you have any ideas what the other prisoners might have been doing, where they might have been going?".

"Not really. They were in a corridor that leads away from the matter transmitter so they must have seen that we disabled it too much for them to use it to escape us. I can't even guess what they might have decided to do instead."

"Since they haven't come after us then they are trying to escape. Do you think there are any other matter transmitters at this base."

He shook his head, "No, these robot facilities only have one transmitter."

"What about space ships? Does this base have any space ships?"

"Very unlikely. Except for the Energy Command we haven't used space ships for about eight thousand years. The only thing we might have here would be an atmospheric shuttle for traveling distances around the planet and... Hat! We could be in trouble Danner. It is possible that this planet has a second base. If they're headed there it will almost certainly have a matter transmitter that they could use!"

"Then we need to find out!" He put Ul-Khrest down on the other bed in this room. "Kuls-Tat, they're all yours. Beloris-Kin, we have a hanger to find. I only hope that we're not too late."

Danner rushed out of the room with Beloris-Kin close behind him. "Find out where the hanger is! We have to get there fast!"

Beloris-Kin stopped at the nearest intercom and asked for the information. On the little intercom screen there appeared a map of the base showing them how to get to the hanger. Beloris-Kin turned to tell Danner but Danner wasn't there. He looked around frantically and caught sight of Danner just as he ran into the corridor that led to the hanger. He followed Danner as quickly as he could.

By the time that he had caught up with Danner Danner had already pulled two vacc-suits from an airlock locker and started to put one of them on. It was an adjustable fit suit. They didn't offer much more than the basic protections against vacuum and radiation and extremes in temperature but that should be enough to get them to the other base. Beloris-Kin followed suit as quickly as he could. Fortunately, Danner was able to help him as he wasn't very experience with vacc-suit dressing.

Five minutes later they were through the airlock and looking at the remaining shuttle. It was an open model with a variable force field shield. They got into it and turned it on.

The ship powered up! Fortunately, their former prisoners had been too busy to sabotage the shuttle or to shut the hanger door. Danner shot out of the hanger like a bat out of Hell. He maxxed the shuttle's acceleration and flew as close to the ground as he could. He soon spotted another engine with his energy sensors and aimed for it. He hoped that they wouldn't spot him. The seconds of their pursuit became minutes then the minutes tens of minutes. Finally, about eight hundred kilometers away and about one hundred kilometers behind his prey he noticed that they were slowing down. Danner continued his high speed until the very last moment, counter-thrusting as hard as his shuttle's gravitational field could compensate for the deceleration. There before them was a small building hardly large enough, he knew, to hold a matter transmitter. Beside it stood a shuttle much like his own and two suited figures just now opening the door to the transmitter.

He realized that he had no choice. He reached over and, before Beloris-Kin could object, turned a knob on Beloris-Kin's suit belt. The result was that a very surprised Akonide shot straight up out of the shuttle before he could readjust his gravity belt. Meanwhile, Danner didn't stop. He knew that there was no way he could get through that airlock in time to stop the Akonides from going on through. He had only one chance. He aimed the shuttle, aimed it for the small building, and, at the last moment, jumped free of the shuttle himself.

The shuttle hit the building with a blow to the side. There was no explosion as the shuttle crumpled into the ground but the side of the building did collapse and two bodies in vacc-suits where sucked out of the building. Danner maneuvered over to them, the anti-gravity field in his suit easily overcoming the gravity of this tiny, barren world. He kept his thermo-pistol trained on them but it turned out to be unneeded. One of them had a torn suit. That, in and of itself, might not have been so bad. Between the automatic seals in the suits and Akonide medical technology the wearer might have survived. It was the long shard of metal that had made the hole and driven completely through his body that he hadn't survived. The other Akonide showed no signs of obvious damage but he also showed no signs of life. As a guess, Danner thought the Akonide might have been crushed as he was sucked out of the transmitter station. In either case, he cabled both bodies to his suit and headed back to the remains of the transmitter station.

By the time he got there Beloris-Kin was already looking over the shuttle that the Akonides had used to get here. When Danner settled down he looked around. Danner heard him talking over the suit's radio. "Are they alive?"

Danner shook his head.

"Don't feel too bad about it, Danner. They forced the issue. They were the ones who reduced this to their lives or ours."

"I know. I would have preferred to have seen them rehabilitated than dead but it's too late for that now. I'm more concerned about you and this shuttle. What are your conditions?"

"I'll be okay. To be honest, unless their friends in the Energy Command could arrange something very high-powered, they were dead men anyway. Unlike you Terrans but like our arkonide cousins, we still have a death penalty. We haven't had to use it in over five hundred years but I would have insisted on it in this case should we have determined that the Hirohito had, in fact, been destroyed. If I shed tears it will be for their families, not for them. As for the shuttle, we have a bit of a problem! The side of the shuttle was pierced by shrapnel. The cockpit won't hold air anymore."

Danner went cold for a second. He knew what that meant. There was no way to cross the eight hundred kilometers across this vacuum without air to breath. With the cockpit compromised they would never make it back to the main base...

Then he realized something. The shuttle had never had a canopy. They had flown here in the open vessel with their vacuum suits on! He gave Beloris-Kin a short but nasty look. Behind the transparent face of the helmet he could see that Beloris-Kin had cracked a grin. "I thought that evolutionarily advanced humans were supposed to have a sense of humor."

"So, some of us are genetic throwbacks. Re-engineer us! I hope you don't mind. You seemed in need of a bit of a diversion."

Danner slapped him lightly on the arm. "I guess that irony is a universal form of humor. Just be careful. I'm told that I tell some of the worst puns this side of Arkon."

Beloris-Kin grimaced, "Puns! You Terrans really are at the low end of the evolutionary scale.".

"What is this? Does no one in the galaxy like a good pun but me?"

"I have met a few, my friend. You will be glad to know that, after appropriate psycho-therapy, they were able to assume a legitimate place in akonide society." Beloris-Kin looked down at the shuttle and patted it. "In any case, the shuttle appears to fine other than some cosmetic damage which is good considering how you parked our shuttle."

Danner shrugged, smiling a bit, "So take my license from me officer!". He slapped Beloris-Kin on the shoulder, "Let's go hom... uh, well wherever the Hell we're going! You drive this time, though! I want to enjoy the scenery.".

After a few minutes they had the bodies of the two Akonides stowed away and were flying back to the main mining base. The trip back took a little longer than the trip out but they didn't mind. They didn't talk much but they did enjoy the starscape of this tiny planet. Danner had no idea where in the galaxy they were but they seemed to coreward from Terra. The star density was considerably higher here. Because they took their eyes off the stars to land the shuttle they didn't notice the ring of light that approached them from the stars.

It was Danner who first noticed it after they had landed. He knew immediately that he was seeing the thrust ring of an arkonide-type spherical ship. He tapped Beloris-Kin on the shoulder and signed that he should look up. "I hope this is our ride home, Beloris-Kin."

"I only wish it were, Danner. Look!"

The ship had come close enough for Danner to make out what Beloris-Kin was pointing at. On the side of the ship were the numbers "172". Arkonides always named their ships. Terrans didn't use arkonide numbers. Ships of the Energy Command, on the other hand, used them. They had exerted all that effort only to fall into the Energy Command's hands once more. Danner's shoulders slumped as he sighed. Sometimes the universe didn't seem like a very fair place.

Then, over their suit radios they heard a voice speaking in the akonide dialect of Arkonide, "Do not move or you will be paralyzed! You are trespassing on sovereign territory!"

Things with the Akonides had started out well enough but they quickly went bad. It seemed that the Akonides had detected the malfunction in their mining base's matter transmitter. Although they hadn't understood the nature of the malfunction they realized that it was probably due to an intelligence on their base. They had dispatched an Energy Command vessel to investigate. Danner would have tried to convince them that they were shipwrecked travelers. Beloris-Kin's presence would have helped the story a lot. Of course there was no ship but he would have had to hope that they wouldn't notice until it was too late. Unfortunately, there was the small matter of the two dead Akonides in the back of the shuttle. He decided to tell the truth and hope that this Energy Command unit was loyal to the Supreme Council of Akon.

They weren't. It didn't take them long to round up the other hyper-physicists and the surviving Akonide. The scientists were lined up in front of the Energy Command ship when the unit's commander decided to speak to them. "You are all accused of murder and sabotage against the Akonide Coalition. You will be returned to Akon where you will be tried for your crimes. When you are found guilty you will be put to work for the Akonide Coalition until such time as you have paid your debt to society."

Li suddenly smiled and spoke up when the commander had stopped speaking, "Don't you think that, perhaps, you should ask them before you arrest us?".

"What are you talking about, prisoner?"

"Them, sir!", Li pointed his cuffed hands up in the air at a ring of thruster flames that was rapidly approaching the planet. A moment later a voice boomed out of their suit radios.

"This is Captain Elizabeth Sinclair of the Solar Alliance ship Nutcracker to the commander of the Energy Command ship. We would like to thank you to rescuing our citizens. The disappearance of the Hirohito caused us considerable concern. We will be landing to take them aboard, care for their wounds, and see them home. In a situation like this I am authorized to compensate you for any expenditures you might have incurred in rescuing them including and damage that they might have done within your base. If you will stand by I will land and meet with you personally."

Danner had to smile. Leave it to a Terran captain to courteously demand that the Energy Command release them. He thought it likely that the Energy Commander would access to her demand. The physicists' testimony might very well start a huge political rowe but the Nutcracker was an eight hundred meter diameter vessel. The Energy Command ship might be powerful but it was unlikely that the Energy Commando would want to find out the hard way if his ship and crew were better than the Terran ship and crew.

When he looked down he saw Beloris-Kin looking at him. "I'm sure that there will be room for you aboard our ship Beloris-Kin."

Beloris-Kin shook his head, "I had best return with my people. With the pressure that your government is likely to bring to bear upon mine I don't think I'm likely to disappear and I will have more influence if I return with them. I won't appear to be associating with the enemy as much."

Danner nodded, "I understand. I wish you the best of luck.".

"The best of luck to you too my friend. We will meet again?"

"I think so. This conference re-entered at too steep an angle but there will be others. I will contact you."

As Beloris-Kin went with his people and Danner went to greet his he thought he heard Beloris-Kin sub-vocalizing the message that they had sent out through the matter transmitter, a message that only a Terran was likely to understand, "Dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot, dot... S.O.S."

Webmaster John Foyt johnfoyt@perry-rhodan-usa.com


The Return of the Series Part 3

The Return of the Series

Part 3

Written by: Thomas Rabenstein

6/96

LOGBOOK OF THE CAPTAIN ........ OF THE CAPTAIN IN CHARGE, COMMANDER RIKER

Captain Picard is still unconscious in Bell's grasp. Beverly is looking after him, but it seems like this doesn't please the Arkonide. The Enterprise has followed the GOOD HOPE through the HOLE, to pursue 5 BORG ships.

Once again the crew of the Enterprise has boldly gone, to regions of the universe where nobody on our side of the series has been before....

10 FOWARD

Guinan: Data, you really don't want anything to drink?

Data: No, thank you.

Guinan: Data, this here is a bar.

Data: OK, OK, I'll have a schnapps.

Guinan: Like always?

Data: Gear-oil on the rocks, shaken, not stirred.

Guinan: You haven't had such a hard drink for a long time. Is something wrong?

Data: Oh, it's nothing.

Guinan: Come on Data, you can tell me about it.

Data: You know, I've been in two universes, but I still haven't found a partner who suits me...

Guinan: Oh, that's it! You're lovesick!

Data: I don't feel emotions. I'm an android. BUT I FEEL SO SAD!!!

Guinan: So what's the problem? You are such a nice Robbi Robot.

Data: Yes, first I thought the syntronic on the GOOD HOPE would be rather pretty, but it was already engaged to a certain Hamiller-Tube.

Guinan: Oh, I'm so sorry. And what's with the androids from the other side?

Data: In the corridor, I spoke with a Thara V. He wanted to introduce me to his sister, but nothing became of it.

Guinan: Why not?

Data: Compatibility.

Guinan: What?

Data: You know, wrong interface.

Guinan: Data! Make it simple, I don't understand a lot of science.

Data: Damn! My plug didn't fit.

Guinan smiling, now she understood: You know what I used to do when something like that happened?

Data: What?

Guinan: I'd go to the holodeck and do some wood chopping. Search for the program: African in the Veldt, you'll like it.

Data smiles again: OK Guinan, I'll try it.

ON THE BRIDGE....

Riker: Mr. Worf!

Worf: Sir?

Riker: Are the BORG still in front of us?

Worf: Yes sir, we are slowly catching up. The GOOD HOPE II is still beside us. Will leaned comfortably in Jean-Luc's seat and enjoyed for a few seconds the feeling of being number 1+.

Riker: Really comfortable, the captain's seat! Does anyone know what this button is for?

Worf: I have no idea, sir. It can't be the trigger for the phasers, because that one is on my console.

Wesley: I guess this button disconnects the impulse-stream from the machines to push off the warp-core in case of emergency.

Troy: Nonsense! If enemies are about to take control of the Enterprise the captain starts the self-destruction sequence with this button. But why are you so pale, Will? Riker raised his finger and showed it around: Because I just pushed it.

For a short moment a cold silence spread on the bridge.

Troy: You have just...

Wesley: Mummy! I'm much to young to die!

Worf: If Tasha could see this!

Bell (Spock): I think this is the end of all logic.

Riker sat down emphatically and took Diana's hand while Worf struck up a Klingon deathsong.

Riker: Now, because the end is so near, I have to tell you ...

Troy: Yes, Will?

Suddenly the door of the turbo-elevator opened and a young cadet rushed in. Pizza with anchovies and cheese for Captain Picard!! This time it took only two minutes since you called us!

Riker looked reproachfully at Wesley: Push off the warp-core, huh?

ON THE GOOD HOPE II.....IN ATLAN'S CABIN

Spock (Bell): Oooch ! Damned! I've cut myself.

Atlan: Jesus, Bell, you never were able to handle the -T'ack Ao'i-.

Atlan's extra brain: You even don't know yourself how to handle it.

Spock (Bell): Every time we eat with you, we have to eat with this

Arkonidian ceremony-cutlery! My finger!

Atlan: Barbarian! This is old Arkonidian splendor-cutlery!

Spock (Bell): But it's certainly not a strong washing machine.

Perry: Show me your finger. That's only a little scratch. Suck it off. Spock (Bell): But the blood is green! There's something wrong! I don't want to swallow this!

Perry: Perhaps it tastes like Vurguzz.

Atlan: I think Jean-Luc told me that Vulcans have green blood by nature. Atlan's extra brain: Yes, and you are still a bit green behind your ears, crystal-prince.

Spock (Bell) By nature? I'm so relieved! I thought the green blood came from the Zalitian pig-oysters that Atlan dished up for us.

Perry stared at his plate: What have I been eating?

Atlan: They're absolutely fresh!

Spock (Bell): But they create flatulence in Vulcans.

Atlan: Don't say such nonsense!

Spock (Bell): Giggle ... you'll see.

Atlan's extra brain: A fantastic dinner. You have outdone yourself once again.

Tolot: Bell, I envy you for the experience you are having.

Spock (Bell): You mean the flatulence?

Tolot: No, I mean the exchange of your body. Who else had the pleasure of trying out another body?

Perry: I had the pleasure.

Atlan: Yes, but you had to send your brain on a trip.

Perry: One moment ...

Atlan's extra brain: And sometimes I have also the feeling that when I was born, I received the wrong body ...

ON THE ENTERPRISE....SICKBAY...

Beverly looked down on Picard, at her wits end. She tried all her little, shining, flashing, whirring gadgets, but without any success.

She put here hand tenderly on Picard's high forehead: Oh Jean-Luc, if

I only knew more about medicine so I could wake you up. When we went through Vulcan neck-pinches at the academy I was always out drinking coffee with the other young students. I'm so sorry if I made you jealous of the prince from Arkon.

But what should I do, he's a total hunk. He has wide shoulders, he's tall, muscular, a fit body, noble blood, full, long hair........

Suddenly Picard opened his eyes.

Picard: Full Hair !?

Beverly: Captain! You're awake!

Picard: ..Dr. Crusher.....Beverly! Where am I?

Beverly: You're on the sickbay, Captain. It's fascinating.

I spoke to them and any some of my words must have gotten through to their subconscious and woken them from their comas .....

Picard: That's good! Who is on the bridge?

Beverly: Commander Riker is in charge.

Picard: Holy Klingon hieroglyphics! Quickly, I've got to get to

the bridge before a disaster happens.

Beverly: First Auntie Doctor has to do a personal checkup...

Slowly Beverly stripped off her gloves and put her hands on Jean-Luc's chest.

Picard: Is this really necessary?

Beverly: Absolutely.

Picard wrinkled his brow and closed his eyes: Very well, then. Make it so!

ON THE GOOD HOPE II. ...

Perry: So we will never catch up to the BORG.

Spock (Bell): They are traveling at Warp 9.9.

Atlan: What is that in Over light factors?

Tolot: I believed Warp 10 could never be reached, but they fly...

Atlan: Damned fast?

Tolot: Exactly!

Perry looked with gleaming eyes at the screen.

Perry: Over there is our friend Pucky. My God, what will the BORG do to him...

ON THE FLAGSHIP OF THE BORG...

PUCKUTUS: NO! NO! AND ONCE MORE NO! HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO SAY IT, I DO NOT WANT ANY HAIR-REMOVAL CREME!

Borg1: But then it will not itch so much under the implants.

PUCKUTUS: Whoever messes with my fur will go flying!

Borg1: But I only wanted to make it more pleasant for you.

PUCKUTUS: A hairless Ilt! Pah!

Borg2: PUCKUTUS, we are still being pursued.

PUCKUTUS: They will never catch us.

Borg1: If we make it to the Terranian Home System, we will

profit from the great tactical abilities of our leader. Inform us of your plan, mighty PUCKUTUS.

PUCKUTUS: Ahh... yes. We fly in quickly, clear the carrot fields and disappear again.

Borg2: And all the machines?

PUCKUTUS: Right! We take along the vegetable juicers. The 5 BORG ships formed a V formation and headed purposefully for the SOL system.

CAPTAINS LOG....

Beverly has roused me from my comatose state with shock therapy.

On the way to the bridge I met Geordie, who was running through the ship with a fat press... remarkable.

I will release Riker posthaste from his duties. From the relieved faces of my team I can tell that they are grateful for my revival. I will make a note in the logbook...

Bell (Spock): Captain on the bridge!

Troy: Captain! I'm so glad to see you!

Picard: I was in good hands, Councilor. Dr. Crusher understands her craft well. Data: I can confirm that, Sir! The last time she purified time my positronic relays last with her hand - vacuum cleaner, I actually felt for the first time...

Worf: I didn't know that positronics could feel...

Picard: Well, Mr. Worf! Number 1?

Riker: Yes, Captain?

Picard: I'm resuming command of the bridge. Let me have my seat back.

Riker: Really?

Picard: At once!

Troy: Thank God! He is his old self again!

Bell (Spock): Captain, we are on a direct flight path to Earth.

The Borg ships are in front of us.

Wesley: The distance to the 5 BORG is unchanged. Whenever we give gas, they give also gas.

Picard: ...Gas?

Wesley: I wanted to make a joke, Captain.

Bell (Spock): It is likely that the Borg ships will reach Earth before us.

Picard: Mr. Worf, contact the GOOD HOPE II!

The screen lit up quickly and showed the Terran Fleet symbol.

A voice proclaimed something in Interkosmo.

Picard: Mr. Data! I do not understand that. Translate it.

Data: OK, Sir. It says: ALL LINES ARE BUSY. PLEASE TRY YOUR CALL AGAIN LATER...

Picard: ...please?

Suddenly, a tumult emerged at the entrance of the Turbolift.

"Let me go! Hands off! "

Two men of Worf's Security Team brought a very old man onto the bridge.

Picard: What's going on? Mr. Worf?

Worf: Sir, We have a stowaway on board! He must have beamed in along with the Vulcan Ambassador and has hidden in his cabin.

Bell (Spock): I told you to stay in the cabin unless you were with me!

The old one looked irritatedly at Bell (Spock): Since when are you in charge, Beefy?

Picard: Who is that?

Riker, stroking his beard: Captain, I believe I know who that is.

Picard: Number one?

Riker: Dr. McCoy!

Picard: Dr. McCoy? .... The doctor of the original Enterprise...

Data: That is correct, Captain.

Picard to the Guards: Let him go! Dr. McCoy, can you explain what you are doing here?

McCoy: Fhhille!

Picard: Say again?

McCoy reached into this Uniform pocket, took out a set of dentures and put them in.

Pill: Thhoo, that feels much better. I must pay attention to my teeth.

Picard: .... on his. ...

Pill: You can call me "Pill," Captain. I am just accompanying Spock on his trip. While he was visiting me in the

retirement home, he suddenly got another distant Vulcan look. I came with him, since I do not belong with those walking cadavers. Which way to Sick Bay?

Picard: Hold on! We already have a doctor! We are very happy with Dr. Crusher!

Pill: A MRS.! ?

McCoy clung to Worf's arm and put on some ancient glasses:

Pill: Thank you young man. ... AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! A Klingon! RED ALERT!

Worf to Picard: Perhaps we should give him to Perry.

Bell (Spock) lifting an eyebrow: Give him away? =20

Pill: Hey Chunky. You speak like these green-blooded, pointy eared...

Bell (Spock): That remark about the pointy ears I will take as a compliment.

ON THE GOOD HOPE II...

Perry: Bell, take your fingers out of your ears!

Spock (Bell): Ahhh damnit, they really itch!

Atlan: Itch? They are only formed differently, nothing else!

Spock (Bell): Yes, well, the shower always leaves water in...

Tolot's laugh shattered some glasses.

Tolot: Perhaps Vulkans never shower.

Another Halatian laugh shook the Command central of the GOOD HOPE II.

Spock (Bell): You certainly find that funny for an entity with no ears!

And how do the Halatians keep clean? I bet you harden your body and blast off the dirt!

In a moment Icho's laughter ended and he started growling.

Perry: Well, well! Can we now pay attention to the BORG?

Atlan: You are right. We must consider how to get Pucky out there and prevent the BORG from attacking the earth. Atlans extra brain: Well clever one, have you already figured out the most important thing?=20 Perry: In few hours they will have reached the SOL system. I think we should talk with Jean-Luc before then.

CAPTAIN'S LOG..

We have reached the Sol system and the BORG have stopped, as expected, outside the orbit of the outermost planet. It is fascinating to see this replica of our own solar system, with one exception: Pluto is destroyed. Perry has mobilized the Terran home fleet, which has covered their position already. My God, they have 80,000 ships!

I was accustomed to having the Enterprise be the only ship in the sector during emergencies.

IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM OF THE ENTERPRISE...

Perry: First, we are glad that you are well again, Jean-Luc.

Picard winked to Beverly: Due to the curing hands of my doctor.

Atlan jealously: ... Due to the curing...

Beverly: The Captain has healed remarkably under my treatment.

Atlan's extra brain: (sigh) me too...

Pill: Hell, I could have done it, too! A bucket of cold water...

Beverly: Old fella, you couldn't even lift a bucket.

Spock (Bell): Who is that?

Pill: Whenever we meet other people, you act as if we don't even know each other! You green blooded Vulcan...

Bell (Spock): That is Dr. McCoy, doctor of the old Enterprise.

He is a guest on board and an interested observer. He is somewhat confused because of the mind switch.

Spock (Bell): Who isn't?

McCoy approached Bell (Spock) and knocked on his temple.

Pill: Are you in there, old friend?

Bell (Spock): Yes I am.

Picard: Now, back to the Borgs. You will come up with a strategy and then go on. I know that. Still, I have no proposals on what we should do now. Any suggestions? Number 1?

Riker: We could assemble a landing party, beam over and free Pucky Picard: Too risky. You have already tried this before and failed. Atlan?

Atlan to his extra brain: What do you think? Tell me! Quickly!

Atlan's extra brain: I know something that you don't...

Atlan: We will discuss that later... grrr

Picard: Mmmh, Mr. Data?

Data: Yes, Sir. We could camouflage you as LOCUTUS, beam you over and confuse the BORG. In the emerging confusion a second team could free Pucky.

Perry: That is a great idea!

Picard: Well, should I really do this? And Pucky ?

He is now a BORG. He thinks like a BORG and acts like a BORG.

It will not be easy.

Perry: We will take along Bell. As his confidant he may be able to get through to the genuine Pucky .

Troy: But Bell looks like Spock!

Data: The situation is complicated.

Picard: I do not want to go over there.

Beverly: Be brave, Jean-Luc. I will wait for you.

Atlan: But I won't!

Pill: And since we are already here, can we take along a couple of Humpback whales?

All were silent and looked at Pill astonished

Perry: .... Humpback whales?

Suddenly Picard's communicator beeped.

Wesley: Bridge to Captain!

Picard: What's up, Wesley? I told you thousand times, when adults are talking...

Wesley: Hyper radio transmission over the relay chain of the Hundred-Sun-World's Central Plasma to Perry Rhodan.

Picard: On the Trivideocube!

Central Plasma: GREETINGS!

Perry: Hello old friend! What's so urgent?

Central Plasma: My Posbis, which I have stationed before the HOLE tell me that the opening on the other side of the universe is becoming unstable. It is starting to flicker.

Picard pale: My God, we must hurry!

SOMEWHERE, ON THE FLAGSHIP OF THE BORG

A soft sound, bodies materializing...

Perry, Atlan, Riker, Worf and Data have materialized somewhere on the Borg-flagship.

Perry: Ah! This beaming is almost like a Teleport jump, only more pleasant. And somewhat more softly to Atlan: We should consider whether or not to make off with this technology. As we have done before, OK?

Atlan: Barbarian!

Riker: Mr. Worf! Tricorder!

Perry: Nintendo! Right?

Worf: Sorry, Sir?

Atlan felt around his body ... "Everything still there?"

Atlan's extra brain: Yes, unfortunately. Sometimes I wish that during a teleport jump that I would be separated from you and appear in another place, for example in Alaska's face. There is space available now. Atlan to his extra brain: But he would have to wear his mask again, because at the sight of you people would die of laughter instead of insanity.

Besides Alaska could revive his Mike Meyers club, as chairman!

Atlan's right hand suddenly moved independently and struck his right cheek.

Atlan's extra brain: That is for the impertinence, Terran-Hunter!

Riker to Atlan: Is everything all right, Sir?

Atlan staring dumbfounded at his hand: Ahh. .. yes, Number1. The Borg must somehow have affected the nerves of my arm...

Atlan's extra brain: Liar! Shall I "affect" the other arm?


Atlan-The Hero of Arkon?

Atlan-The Hero of Arkon?

Part 1

When you hear the name Perry Rhodan who doesn't also think of ATLAN?

The Arkonide has distinguished himself many times as a friend and aide to humanity. That he has a few "gaps" or "small deviations" in his otherwise photographic memory may be forgiven this ancient Arkonide.

Nevertheless, it astonishes this reporter how often -consciously or unconsciously?- historical facts have been changed or hushed up in his favor.

This hard hitting story is about his early life on Arkon.

It turns out that the Ark Summia (the activation of the extra brain) was only granted to him because of his descent from an old aristocratic family. This happened despite admonitions from his brother Orbanaschol, who warned that with the extra brain Atlan could now go about doing "mischief with a method." For instance, Atlan could (and did) crack the secret code of a fleet depot on Arkon IV and ran off with an Arkon bomb, thanks to his extra brain, which he otherwise only listened to when he needed a cheap pocket calculator. He played "arming and defusing" with the bomb at the tender age of 15 years.

As a result of his boundless overestimation of his own abilities he once could not defuse it...

Arkon IV was completely destroyed. In the course of this catastrophe his honorable father Emperor Gonozal VII lost his life. Atlan's mother went into exile in the hinterlands of M13, in shame. Atlan, however, succeeded in laying the blame at his brother Orbanaschol's door. For it was he who initiated rescue operations for the Arkonides on Arkon IV immediately, and Atlan was able to convince the councilors of Arkon that he had "the terrible suspicion that he himself could scarcely believe", his brother had something to do with that bomb - the rescue had followed suspiciously fast. Orbanaschol was banished to a prison planet for life. Atlan's fatherly friend Fartuloon, who looked after the orphaned Crystal Prince, provided him with command of a unit of the Arkon fleet a few years later.

To Atlan's horror it was just at this time when the Methane Breathers appeared, forcing Arkon into the largest war since the founding of the Great Empire. Atlan was horrified - because all Arkonides expected that the Crystal Prince would lead the fleet in battle against the Maahks. He decided to leave this chore to more experienced admirals and instead founded a special unit. This was held in high esteem - whereever Atlan appeared with his troops, the Arkonides won. Or rather: he only appeared when the Arkonides were sure to win...

The undoubtable pinnacle of his career: On the planet Dolphart Atlan gave a bracelet of Luurs metal to Grand Admiral Grek-1108 as a gift, as a sign of mutual respect. He and Grek-1108 were forced to protect the civilians by Halutans. In the Arkonidian media this episode was presented as a prime example of the c'lemn'tia Atlanis, Atlan's leniency. In addition, it never was revealed that Atlan had prepared Grek's bracelet with a strong itching powder, which as we now know failed to work on the Maahk metabolism.

Atlan's unit was also an example of modesty regarding ammunition, Atlan did not need to open fire too often. As is proper for such an elite unit they always had full store rooms filled with most exquisite foods and beverages to make up for their hardships. Through Atlan's brilliant tactics not one of the cruisers of his squadron was lost. Young Arkonides positively begged to serve in Atlan's squadron...

Then came a fateful day for Atlan: In the Mist Sector Arkon had taken serious losses, and there were few units left ready for action. Atlan's orders were, together with Space Admiral Sakal, who was not too popular as he never had won a battle in Atlan's absence, to stop the Methanes with forces far inferior to them. It was at this point that Atlan got his silver gray, nearly white hair, as a result of being scared for his life.

Instead he used an alpha-order and went with some colonists on a special mission which would supposedly turn the tide of battle in the Methane war.

He approached the solar system of Larsaf - far enough away from Arkon and the hordes of Methane Breathers. There he forced the settlers to land on the second planet and to build a Robot brain which could take over the administration of the colony, which would become the nucleus of a new empire led by Atlan. To Atlan's pleasure it was discovered that on the third planet there were primitive intelligences similar to Arkonides, who were excellently suited to be laborers. Some of Atlan's commanders naturally got carried away, as did Inkar. He was the commander of the battle cruiser PAITO, which did not have any substantial offensive and defensive powers left, but was nevertheless laden with Larsaf's riches that he, as an alleged god, had got by dishonest means from the Inka he had named after him. On the richest continent, which was named Atlantis to clarify the claims of ownership, Atlan also ordered the construction of an underwater depot of gigantic size for his meager belongings.

Two years went by, during which the Arkonides enjoyed themselves bloody well.

The unwilling Arkon-colonists and the primitives did not feel quite as fine, but Atlan made sure that his countless private secretaries from Larsaf III did not lack for anything. This went on until the day on which they heard the voice of a powerful, unknown being: "Arkonides, you are not here by chance. I, the Immortal, have appointed you as guardians of the still primitive folk of Larsaf III. But you have become lazy and sluggish, and now you have to defend your paradise. Beings from another universe will penetrate this system and, if nobody stops them, will destroy these worlds. For that reason I will give you a weapon with which you can win the battle: this transformer-cannon."

Atlan had pricked up his ears at two words: Immortal and transformer-cannon. He dug deeper: "Immortal, why should I command my men to die for these worlds? We could simply leave and settle elsewhere. Without any service in return I'm not willing to do anything." The superintelligence later known to us as IT was impressed by the fresh words of the crystal prince, and as it saw in him some kind of court jester IT granted him relative immortality. Atlan was skeptical at first, and thought the pulsing metal-egg might be some kind of costume jewelry, and it did not seem likely to grant immortality. But he believed IT, because he did not want to spoil his chances with the powerful being. His followers let him keep the trinket and laughed that he had been duped so easily. But they were also angry, as Atlan started behaving strangely. For instance, it was decreed that one could only keep 3 slaves, 97 less than before the encounter with IT. When the attack of the beings known as Druufs descended upon them and Atlan retreated to his underwater dome and commanded his unit to the first serious battle of its life, the crew mutinied. Tarts, the commander of the TOSOMA, took to his heels with the whole fleet and left behind a raging Atlan. The batteries of the continent Atlantis kept the Druufs off the planet, but the continent sank because of the forces unleashed. Atlan was alone and had no hyper-transmitter to call for help. Tarts meanwhile let himself be celebrated as savior of the Empire, and gave Atlan credit for the discovery of the transformer-cannon, which at last won the Methane War. Unfortunately the glorious commander had been lost without a trace to a strange universe in the course of this and had gotten killed, which made Arkon's population mourn greatly - and made Atlan Time's Lonely One.

IT gave the frustrated Arkonide a new task: He was to guard humanity as mentor of the planet and offer the knowledge of the Arkonides. He set to his task with enormous enthusiasm at once and tried raising the birthrate to replace the Atlantians killed in the attack of the Druufs. His "personal involvement" went so far that IT sentenced him to several thousand years of deep sleep. He offered Atlan two choices: abstinence the next thousand years or castration. The Arkonide chose to bridge that hard time with deep sleep. But the traces of his work are still visible, especially in the population of the Scandinavian countries. If it weren't for ITs intervention, Terra would have become a colony of the Arkonides, an outcome that modern historians and scholars agree on. From the past of the Arkonide here we will give some highlights, sticking to the most remarkable:

-that Atlan founded the first shared flat with stone-age people

-that he won the Olympic Games' long jump, though his gravopak was running on half-power

-that he wanted to show Columbus the fastest way to India

-that he taught the Chinese Dagor basics

-but forgot to explain about eating with knife and fork

-that he made a bet with Hannibal that he'd get at least one elephant across the Alps alive. In this he succeeded, as the elephant bull "Revenge of Tanith" was a robot.

-that he encouraged the Etruscans to the rape of the Sabines

-that Atlan is the same as Abraham

-that Demeter retired to the Cheops pyramid for deep sleep to escape the pesterings of the rude advisor of the pharaoh, Ata-lan

-that he pinched King Arthur's wife as Sir Lancelot

-that he appeared as Dolph Lundgren in several action movies

-that he programmed OS/2 and Softram

Read the second part of our report soon:

ATLAN -

The Terran Hunter

Copyright 1996 by Michael Birke

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