With the help of their passage chips Kummerog and Bruno Drenderbaum reach the supposedly wrecked space fort ORION-738. In 1144 NGE, the station had been the scene of the meeting between Galbraith Deighton and Romulus, AKA Homer G. Adams, the leader of the resistance movement ARIES. They are expected there by the android Kerom, who is to bring them after Camelot. However, when the android discovers their subterfuge, Kummerog shoots down the android and prevents the release of the self-destruct mechanism. He then hacks into what is left of Kerom to learn the coordinates of Camelot. Arriving there, the Cantrell makes the space jet crash, with which the ship is practically atomized. The two expected recruits Andor Felsch and Simon Dury, whose places Kummerog and Drenderbaum had taken, as well as the android, are considered to have died in the crash.
Camelot turns out to be the former Free Trader world Phoenix, which is the second planet of the sun Ceres in the spherical star cluster M-30 in the halo of the Milky Way. The planet is surrounded by eight orbital stations, which can proceed in the case of a threatening discovery, into the detection protection of Ceres or on one of the other planets of the system. The capital is Port Arthur on the south continent Ophir. It has over five hundred thousand inhabitants and is separated by a green belt from the adjacent space harbor, shipyard facilities and four space suitable service stations with the designations Dock I to IV. The center of the city is the HQ-Camelot, constructed in the shape of a seventeen story pyramid and an edge length of over one thousand meters.
When the GILGAMESCH reaches Camelot with the captured hedgehog ship, Gregor Mineo, the commander of Perry’s GILGAMESCH Module with the designation MOORGA, asks to be allowed to proceed on the search for the three cell activator bearers who had disappeared on Trokan. Myles Kantor rejects this and orders the examination of the hedgehog ship to begin in Dock II.
The Siganese David Golgar who had emigrated, together with the remaining population of Siga in 1255 NGE to Camelot, manages to penetrate into the sealed off square machine block in the rear of the wreck. Together with a previously fed in bit of energy, Golgar unintentionally triggers a nuclear fire, which shortly covers all of Dock II. Homer G. Adams’ GILGAMESCH Module ROSTOCK, which has just returned to Camelot, transports the dock together with its nearby surrounding countryside into hyperspace, before the nuclear fire can reach farther around itself. Four people end up having died in the nuclear fire, including Cyrus Morgan, the former Chief Scientist of the BASIS.
With the help of cellular tissue previously retrieved on the hedgehog ship the Xeno-Medic Arfe Loidan reconstructs the genome of the foreign invaders, which appear like giant snakes and are christened Viperides. They possess an approximately two meter long body ending in a thickened stub and have six limbs in the form of tentacles: a pair of legs, a pair of action arms and a secondary arm pair. While the one and a half meter long action arms dispose of particularly mobile and sensitive suckers, the short secondary arms serve only for the absorption of nutrients and body care. The whole body is covered by small scales, which give off an iridescent gleam with movement. In addition, the scales serve as a flexible exoskeleton for the being without bones. Only the wedge-shaped head possesses cartilaginous structures. The Viperides have toothless jaws, which are fitted out with a half wreath of three centimeter long bristles. The eyes are yellow and have no irises. Loidan also discovers that the strangers dispose of no characteristic gender features and are not capable of reproduction. Nevertheless they were not grown in test tubes or cloned, but appeared in some natural manner.
Shortly after his arrival on Camelot, Atlan learned about the fall of the space jet and the supposed death of the recruits Felsch and Dury as well as the android Kerom. Due to the fact that their recruitment office on the BASIS was destroyed just after their takeoff from it, the Arkonide becomes suspicious and orders the crash site examined more carefully. Meanwhile Kummerog, who feels an insatiable hunger in spite of constant feeding and his subjugated captive Drenderbaum hide in the wilderness with the senile father of the security technical expert Dorothea Ringent, who imagines himself still in the time of the Free Traders and the Drakiste. With her father as a hostage the two refugees are able to extort Dorothea Ringent to fake the evidence of the two recruits’ death and also get Kummerog documents about the security arrangements of Camelot. In the end Kummerog decides that his best course of action and his desire is to steal the whole GLIGAMESH!…
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