122 - Der Tod des Lordadmirals
Death's Demand
Kurt Mahr

While a party in the Terran embassy on Arkon I is in full swing with three thousand invited guests, the Arkonide admiral Thekus is interrogated and then murdered in one of the rooms of the embassy. His corpse is discovered by the Terran ambassador, Julian Tifflor, who immediately informs Atlan.

A Terran group (Landry, Patterson, Hannigan and Randall) commanded by Colonel Nike Quinto gets ready for a special mission while on Arkon rumors run rampant because Thekus was the personal advisor of Atlan. Action Division Three initiates a misdeception operation which involves a great amount of theatrics: to begin with, the Terrans make the false claim that they have revived Thekus. Quinto and his men then disembark with all their material on Arkon I and the colonel explains to Tifflor and Atlan that in fact they are going to create an android of Thekus in an attempt to trap his assassin....

After twelve days the robot is ready: "Thekus" can finally attend a reception. One afternoon Landry summons a taxicab and takes Thekus for a walk in the city in order to buy a mokoki, a small Laurelian animal which can reproduce the face of anyone it has seen. In the store they are victims of a murder attempt but they succeed in escaping alive and returning to their base. Quinto destroys Thekus with a disintegrator as soon as they arrive back at the base.

In fact Quinto explains that Thekus has been kidnapped and replaced by another android during their walk at the market; the first part of their mission is therefore a success because they can now follow Thekus by way of a tracking device in the android. Thanks to the transmitter in Thekus they learn that the robot has been brought to Arkon II. About the same time the unknown captors help in the destruction of their own android by Quinto without suspecting that the Terrans are on their trail. Quinto and his men embark on their special corvette K-3605 for Arkon II. Landry remains on Arkon I in order to attempt to capture the Arkonide who had put a transmitter in their taxicab. He arrives much too late, the man has just been cut down by the Laurélien that sold them the mokoki. It only remains for Landry to rejoin his colleagues on Arkon II.

On Arkon II Quinto meets an Arkonide admiral who Atlan asked to help them but, due to an emergency, the four Terran agents must return to their corvette because the cross-examination of Thékus is about to begin. Meanwhile, Landry arrives in his turn on Arkon II with his mokoki. In the presence of the Arkonide admiral the mokoki changes appearance suddenly and takes on the features of one of the aggressors in the store: It is the face of Carba of Mintérol.

The Mintérols are one of the noblest families of the Arkonide Imperium and it doesn't take Landry long to rejoin his colleagues in the surveillance corvette to announce his discovery to them. At that moment aboard the corvette everybody observes the cross-examination of Thékus that has just begun. Questions come from Arfar, an Arkonide of very high rank, and a mysterious Melaal that nobody is able to identify. Quinto learns that the original Thékus was one of the links in a vast plot aimed at deposing Atlan and that he had been cut down because he was in disagreement with the utilized methods employed by the plotters. Thereafter a question from Arfar about a certain Bélubal confuses the android which Quinto is obliged to deactivate, covering the deactivation up by simulating a fainting episode. It is determined that the unknown Bélubal must be an Akonide and therefore the danger for Terrans is even greater than originally anticipated! Suspecting Terrans to be nearby, Carba suddenly appears and orders everybody to embark on his vessel in order to flee to their secret base of Kusma. The K-3605 follows them and arrives just as an Arkonide vessel sets out again from Kusma: Quinto sends a message to the Terran fleet and then heads for the planet.

On Kusma Quinto discovers the hostile base where Thékus is being held captive. The cross-examination of Thekus has resumed, led as always by Arfar, Carbŕ and Melaal. For one moment Melaal separates himself from the group to prepare the conspirator’s next flight because he has just realized that Thekus is a robot and that therefore Terrans are probably not far away. On his part, Hannigan notices the suspicious behavior of Melaal and Quinto understands that their misdeception game with the android has been discovered: he decides to activate the hidden transmitter in Thekus and to lead an assault on the base. Unfortunately the rebels react very quickly and they are able to flee.

Quinto decides to search the base but Hannigan discovers a bomb left by Melaal that Landry is unable to deactivate. They just have time to leave Kusma before it explodes.

Some hours later Rhodan and Atlan formulate an evaluation of the situation:

The machinery found on Kusma served to activate the second brain of the Arkonides.

Carba, nephew of Thekus, seems to be an important cog of the conspiracy and seems to have been helped by the Akonides.

Michael P. Mahoney 2007-08-26

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