1502 - Die letzte Frist
The last period
Kurt Mahr

During the trip, Rhodan receives the visit of someone disguised as Bull who faults him for what's happening. He says that Rhodan should have accepted to hear the Third Ultimate Question and he should have worked with the Cosmocrats instead of turning away from them. Later, Rhodan finds out that Bull was never in his cabin, and the identity of the mysterious visitor remains unknown.

The Eidolon arrives at the location where Wanderer should have been if it hadn't been destroyed in 2326 but they can't find the artificial planet anywhere. Following a hunch, Atlan flies the Eidolon to a different point in space and the Terrans finally locate Wanderer. Atlan refuses to explain how he came up with this location for the time being.

The Eidolon lands and It manifests itself, telling Rhodan that the 20,000 year period has expired and since the Terrans have failed in their mission to bring peace to the local cluster, they must return their cell activators. The Terrans are stunned and Rhodan realizes that the stars above, which are simulated by the generators of Wanderer, are indeed displaying the sky as it should be after a delay of 17,220 years. Atlan confesses that this was his intuition and that they are currently in the location of Wanderer's orbit where the planet should be if the time that had gone by was 20,000 years.

The Terrans try to convince It that it is wrong, but the super intelligence ignores their complaints and orders Homunk to gather the cell activators, which the Galactics reluctantly turn in.

Two Nakk spaceships arrive on Wanderer: the Anezvar, with Willom and Eirene on board, and the Jeexel, with Shaarim and Clistor. Clistor is bringing a present to It, which turns out to be the cell activators that were stolen from Galbraith Deighton, Jen Salik, Geoffrey Abel Waringer, Irmina Kotschistowa, Jennifer Thyron and Gesil. Ronald Tekener reacts violently by killing Clistor, whom he blames for the death of his wife, Jennifer.

Irritated by the display of violence, It paralyzes everyone and sends them back on their way. The Galactics wake up a few hours later on their spaceship. Atlan blames Rhodan for what happened but this time, Rhodan immediately realizes that he's again dealing with the unidentified impostor. He paralyzes the fake Arkonide, who vanises in a puff of smoke.

As the Galactics are resigning themselves to only have about sixty hours left to live, It lets them know that before he released them, he gave them all a cellular shower, which gives them a sixty-two year reprieve.

The Eidolon sets out for the Earth.

Cedric Beust 2012-02-15

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