1251 - Stalker
Ernst Vlcek

The activation of the Chronofossil Terra causes a phenomenon similar to the Halutian Wanderlust: millions of Terrans feel a strong urge to leave the Earth and explore the stars. Chmeky and Jercygehl An leave the Base and in February 429, the Endless Armada and the Loolandre depart for the constellation Coma Berenice.

The Viral Empire, which lost most of its mass during the fight against the Element of Darkness, dissolves into smaller parts that break the orbit and land on the Earth. In November, Homer G. Adams orders a meeting of the Hanseatic League to discuss the recent events, which Rhodan reluctantly agrees to attend.

Before the conference, Homer G. Adams thinks about something that took place a few months ago...

Adams receives a communication from a stranger calling him from the Tsunami-114, hidden in the Asteroid Belt. The stranger calls himself Sotho Tal Ker and says he found the Tsunami abandoned in the periphery of Erendyra, a galaxy in the Sphere of Influence of the Super Intelligence Estartu. Sotho Tal Ker introduces himself as an emissary from Estartu and he wants to create a trade relationship with the Terrans. Adams sees an opportunity for the Hanseatic League to recover from the recent setbacks and accepts to take the stranger to the Earth. He abbreviates Tal Ker's name to "Stalker" and realizes that the mysterious humanoid carries an insignia in the shape of a triangle made of three arrows.

Unbeknown to Adams, Stalker creates the pirate station Acheron and starts airing messages under the identity of the Warner, using the Contra-Computer of Tsunami-114. When he gets discovered by Ronald Tekener, Stalk convinces Adams that he must erase Tekener's memory or his identity will be revealed by telepaths. When Adams finally reveals Stalker to the Hanseatic League, the initial mistrust is slowly cleared and a vote gives the stranger the possibility to continue his work on the Earth. Besides Tekener, who feels betrayed and manipulated, Taurec shows some unrest during the presentation and he finally comes on stage and challenges Stalker to reveal his true identity, saying that Cosmocrats and Stalker's peoples are enemies.

Stalker eventually shows his true form, similar to a tall and skeletal humanoide, accompanied with a smaller version of himself called Skorsh. He explains to the Hnaseatic League that the three arrows arranged in a triangle represent the Cosmocrats, the Chaotarques and Estartu, the third way, which is why Taurec considers him his enemy.

After this tumultuous session, Reginald Bull seems to suffer from the Wander Lust more than anybody and he is longing to do something different that would give his life new meaning. After an entire night spent reflecting on his fate while staring at the Goshun sea, a virus cloud finally arrives in the morning and takes him away.

The next day, Stalker tells Rhodan that he wants to start a campaign to advertise the Wonders of the Estartu's Sphere of Influence. He says that despite the distance of 120 millions of light years, the twelve galaxies that are part of the Sphere of Influence can be reached easily with a new type of engines called Enerpsi Drives.

Cedric Beust 2005-03-04

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