2031 - Die Sprinter von Ertrus
The Runners of Ertrus
Susan Schwartz

While the new Tato of Ertrus, Forman da Ricce threatens to bring the resistant population under control with ever more drastic means, the Ertrusers on their part seize to ever more drastic means to pay to the occupiers for their crimes, an eye for an eye. The Arkonide soldiers soon refuse the instruction to arrest any natives. The Arkonides fear being hunted down and killed by the Ertrusian rebels. The high-ranking Arkonide on Ertrus soon understand, that one cannot incorporate this race so simply into the Crystal Empire, as the plan of Imperator Bostich intends.

The rebels, under the leadership of the underground president Kim Tasmaene grow ever bolder and even attack the Arkonides in their own bases. The men and women of Ertrus will not give up following their guiding principle, which was coined by "Radio Free Ertrus" and do their best to make their planet as uncomfortable for their occupiers as possible. Ertrus will not fall!

Nevertheless the problem remains, that Ertrus stands under occupation and blockade. Reginald Bulíls LFT fleet is located at a safe distance, but embodies more moral support than military with their presence. Rhodan is on Ertrus and the Solar Resident is extremely endangered in the Arkonideís sphere of influence.

However, in spite of all difficulties the rebels succeed in protecting themselves and Rhodan from the grip of the Arkonides. But how can Rhodan get back into a position from which he can intervene actively in the events? And how can they transmit information to the LFT to declare that Rhodan is still alive?

He swears during the swearing of the freely chosen president, to stand by Ertrus with all possible means, should he be able to leave the planet. Once again time it is the New USO, which seizes the initiative at the correct moment. In spite of the blockade of an enormous Arkon fleet, a group from the USO under the direction of Roi Danton goes on the attack and approaches Ertrus with a crafty maneuver. Some of the retinue of the USO fleet, robot steered "junk spaceships", are shot during the fighting and rain down as debris on the planet. In the protection of these ruins the USO succeeds in setting down a man to look for Rhodan.

It is no less than the Oxtorner Monkey. The chief of the New USO manages to produce contact with the rebels and reveals a plan for them, by which Rhodan and the ten Ertrusian Emotionauts can be saved from the members of the occupying forces. The USO will repeat the approach maneuver at an exactly planned moment and again sacrifice some ships in whose rain of debris will be not armed forces or agents, but special transmitters whose operation cannot be disturbed by the Arkonides. But there is one difficulty with the plan. The transmitters are so sensitive that they must be intercepted shortly before the strike from free case by an antigrav-cushion. However, the energy emissions of the antigrav-generators can be located by the Arkonides. Because Ertrus lies under a complete detection screen, they must count on, shortly after the activation of the antigravs, a destructive bombardment in which everything within several square kilometers around the landing place of the transmitter will be burned to ashes.

To avoid losing the precious equipment Rhodan suggests digging tunnels in the ground near the landing points and establishing secured spaces there. In these underground chambers a human or Ertruser should be able to survive the bombardment from space. As the response time of the Arkonides must be assumed to be only some minutes, they must be able to take the landed device and bring it together with their own bodies to safety n a tunnel within that period.

A group of Ertrusers and Monkey announce themselves as volunteers for the task and will be come to be written in the annals of Ertrusian history as the "Runners of Ertrus". The USO fleet appears punctually and throws down the special transmitters, which are taken by the harried Ertrusers to safety in the prepared tunnels. Shortly after the predicted bombardment by the Arkonide fleet takes place and transforms the landing area into a glazed surface.

In spite of the high risks the men and equipment are successfully retrieved. Using one of the delivered transmitters Rhodan can leave Ertrus and is met on the USO ship by his son Micheal, who has gone back to calling himself Roi Danton. Once again the new USO has performed astonishing work.

Meanwhile on Ertrus, Tato Forman da Ricce is caught by his destiny. When he is recalled by Imperator Bostich to report on Arkon, he succumbs to an attack on the way to his ship and is killed. The assassination by the rebels of Ertrus is meant to call him to account, punishing Forman da Ricce for his inhumane reign.

jerry schneiderman 2006-04-06

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