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15 - Die Spur durch Zeit und Raum
Quest Through Space and Time
Clark Darlton


The unknown immortal who guards the secret of eternal life has prepared an endless series of “impossible” challenges that anyone must conquer to win that secret.

Perry Rhodan the crew of the Stardust II, recently ‘acquired’ from the invading Topsiders, has just established a trade treaty with the Ferrons, the inhabitants of the Ferrol system. Trade goods are being manufactured for export to Earth, to establish friendly relations between the two worlds. The negotiations also provided the first clue in the mystery surrounding the secret of eternal life.

Perry Rhodan finds out that the Arkonides discovered several thousand years ago that the Ferrol system contains a planet that is the home of the immortals, but it had disappeared. In order to track it down, they are forced to solve almost impossible tasks, for the inhabitants of the vanished planet have created a kind of cosmic treasure hunt. Only beings capable of five-dimensional thought processes will be able to find this planet of eternal life.

Perry travels to Venus to put the question to the positronic brain. A day passes before the brain produces an answer:

Over 9,985 Earth-years ago, an Arkonide commander named KERLON and his fleet of three exploration space cruisers arrived in the Vega system. The commander, named Kerlon, landed on the eighth planet and was welcomed by the natives. They soon learned that they were not the first "gods" to arrive on Ferrol: others had made an emergency landing there many centuries ago. In appreciation for their assistance, the others left several matter-transmitters behind. Kerlon wanted to know further details about the machines but the Ferronians told him that they do not know. They had received them as a gift from beings who "lived longer than the sun."

This was the reference to the race of the immortals Kerlon was looking for! He didn’t report this to the central master file on Arkon until much later. He sent this report from the second planet of another solar system: Terra’s solar system.

They left Ferrol and jumped to the Sol system, landing on the second planet, Venus. Kerlon and his men constructed the giant base there and sent off detailed reports to Arkon. Later, Kerlon’s expedition settled on Terra, the system’s third planet. Kerlon eventually met his death fighting savages on a huge continent, which was later attacked by enemies from outer space, resulting in its sinking into the ocean.

After learning this, Rhodan decides to return to the vault in the Thort’s palace on Thorta. Rhodan wants to discuss a few items with his closest collaborators in this quest. He reveals his notion that there is only ONE immortal being, not an entire race of them. The others are shocked by this, but are convinced by his explanation. A portion of the message read: ‘... just a few seconds according to my chronology.’ The emphasis on the word my, brought him to the logical conclusion that there is only one immortal being!

A party of nine people return to the invisible vault under the Thort’s palace. Activating an Arkonide generator, they cause the crypt to reappear. In the spot where the transmitter stood, there was now a chair on a low dais. Rhodan stepped into the crypt and sat down in the chair. An energy screen enveloped Rhodan and the chair as the machine began to operate. After discovering the symbols on the mysterious metal cube that had appeared, the robot explains to them that they are already traveling backward through time!

A new message enters their thoughts: be on guard, for they must find Kerlon without getting killed. Only he can show them the way to the Light, which will also let them return to their time. They must wait for three days exactly: only then will they be able to return to their own time.

Ras Tsubai teleports outside and meets the forefathers of the Sichas. He pieced together a picture of the situation from them. The owner of the castle was a count who ruled over this region. His neighbor, another count, challenged his claim to power and the current battle was another attempt to wrest the castle from him. The Sichas robbed the fallen warriors, not participating in the dispute. The bearded leader makes reference to weapons can hurl bolts of lightning, the same as Ras carried and asks if he was one of the Gods of the Sun, returned?

Ras ponders for a moment, the says yes, they’re friends. They are attacked and Ras defends them all with his weapon, a psychoradiator. The attackers fall to the ground in agony, defeated. Ras then bids the others farewell and returns to the castle. Ras reports what he has found out and they decide to throw in with the owner of the castle they are in.

The baron Lesur believes them to be Gods who have come to help him fight the barbarians. Perry decides to play along. They set out to defend the castle and locate Kerlon. They easily defeat the attacking force. The barbarians flee.

After two days pass, Lesur is discussing their history with them and reveals that in the castle’s cellars is a special cage, left by the gods. After hearing the story of a scientist who tested the mechanism and vanished, returning two years later, Rhodan determines it is the matter transmitter they were loking for. Rhodan risks using the machine to find out where the other end is. He rematerializes on the other side of Ferrol, inside a temple on a mountaintop. As shadowy figures closed in on him, he activated the transmitter and returns to the castle.

On the morning of the third day, three ships of the Arkonides touched down on Ferrol. Commander Kerlon had arrived. Kerlon’s previous expedition had garnered for him a metallic cylinder obtained from an unihabited continent inside a metallic pyramid located there. On this trip, one of his scientists detected an odd-looking cage; the matter transmitter! Kerlon uses it, vanished for a short while, then returns. He is convinced that the other unit is located on the opposite side of this planet. Kerlon begins a long search and landed directly next to the castle.

The attackers saw the landing and waited for an opportune time to attack. Rhodan sent Khrest to greet him. Khrest will tell him that he landed here several months earlier and thoroughly explored this planet and solar system. He will try to persuade him to continue his flight to Earth. Rhodan watchs as Khrest and a robot left.

Kerlon, accompanied by an officer, meets Khrest and his companion, observing their approach. After an exchange of information, Khrest manages to convince Kerlon that the solar system may hold the answer to what he is searching. At that moment, the barbarians attack, causing Kerlon to flee inside his ship, dropping the capsule he found on his previous trip. Khrest is protected by the powers of the mutants watching over him. Ras Tschubai appears and recovers the metal cylinder.

Kerlon orders an immediate takeoff and follows the other two spacespheres that were waiting for him in the upper layers of the atmosphere. After stopping on another region of Ferrol for three days, they left the planet for good. They cruise the system, then leave for the solar system, more than twenty-seven light-years away.

Rhodan tries to unlock the secret of the cylinder as the barbarians press their attack on the castle. As they are about to enter the room containing the time machine, the time travelers were thrown to the ground by a tremendous shock-wave. They are on their way back to their time.

Thora awaits them, but is puzzled why they returned so soon. They have been gone for only a half an hour. Rhodan reminds her that they are dealing with a being that has mastered time and the five dimensions. Time would have no meaning to it.

The message contained in the capsule is decoded swiftly:

WHOEVER WISHES TO FIND THE WAY MAY STILL TURN BACK. BUT IF HE DECIDES TO PURSUE THE TRAIL, HE MAY REST ASSURED THAT HE WILL NO LONGER RECEIVE ANY ASSISTANCE. SOON THE UNIVERSE WILL BE SHAKEN. INVESTIGATE, BUT CONSIDER THAT THIS WORLD IS ALIEN AND GIGANTIC.

They try to fathom the meaning of the baffling message. Perry’s intuition tells him that there’s danger ahead. They all agree against abandoning the search.

Mark Gearhart 2006-02-26

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