1998 - Am Proto-Tor
At the Proto-Gate
Horst Hoffmann

Perry Rhodan was rescued at the last moment by the Mushroom Dome. As soon as he is in, he crosses the Bridge to Infinity and stops in front of the Proto-Gate, hoping to contact a Heliot. Nobody answers, so Rhodan decides to go to the Galorn galaxy to look for Kaif Chiriatha, the Second Messenger. He quickly finds the young woman, who is upset. She explains to him that a few days ago, the Cosmic Factory Suvari materialized over their home planet and declared all the Galornians hostages.

Rhodan decides to find the Creators, the first people of Thoregon. The two Messengers cross the Bridge to Infinity but when they arrive in the main city, Rumbiak-Awy, Jorim Azao is nowhere not to be found. Rhodan ignores that the First Messenger is thousands of light-years away, in a Virtual Ship. Besides, Rumbiak-Awy is also besieged by the Cosmic Factory Noktua.

Rhodan and Chiriatha Kaif then head for the Delta-Space, the home of the Baolin N'Das. They are greeted by the last two survivors of the Baolin N'Das, Tautanbryk and his wife, who tell him that they are preoccupied : the Aeole, the resting place where all the dead spirits of their now defunct people rests, has disappeared. This disappearance coincides with the arrival of the Cosmic Factory Jorgon, piloted by Mkammer. Tautanbryk says he has to watch over his wife, now pregnant, and declines Rhodan's invitation to join them.

The two Messengers then head for the Teuller system, home of the Nonggos. Then again, a Cosmic Factory piloted by Parr Fiorano appeared recently and disrupted the fragile gravitational balance that holds the giant wheels together. The Neuron, the paraphysical commonality that links the Nonggos together, is severed and both the Nonggos and the Terrans of Calcutta-North are getting hopeless to survive the catastrophe.

Rhodan and Kaif cross the Bridge to Infinity again and arrive in Thagarum, where Rhodan hopes to contact Mhogena. As soon as they exit the Mushroom Dome, they are hit by an extremely violent shock wave that plunges them into a sleep filled with nightmares. The dreams are caused by a Servant of the Matter called Tommjago, on board the Cosmic Factory Roa Kerena, who has the ability to uncover people's worst nightmares and make them feel like real. Rhodan and Kaif manage to wake up and retreat into the Mushroom Dome.

With each of the incursion, the Bridge to Infinity seems to decay a little more. Before Rhodan can decide their next direction, the Bridge takes them in front of a dark city. Black robots run toward them and shoot at them with knives and arrows that manage to pierce through their protection suits. Kaif is severely wounded by a knife and Rhodan has to carry her across the Bridge. The Galornian asks Rhodan to bring her back to her home planet before she dies. Despite the emergency, Rhodan accepts and Kaif dies in his arms as he reaches Gaalo.

Despaired, Rhodan returns in front of the Proto Gate, which opens before him. He enters it and reappears in a gigantic Mushroom Dome. He doesn't know where he is but he soon notices a familiar spaceship approaching the Dome : it is New Eden II, It's artificial world.

Cedric Beust

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