2113 - Gefangen in der Zitadelle
Caught In The Citadel
Uwe Anton

Ikanema Two resumes the narration of his life in order to explain to his children the grounds of their incarceration.

After the police force of the Tradom Empire puts them (him and the other slaves of the pirates) down on Aeusen XIV, the E'Valenters carry out a punitive expedition on the planet. During the fight, Ikanema sees a flag presenting the Tradom galaxy on the bottom in jags. His friend Tratto reacts to this sight while speaking of the Debris Empire. The battle is close until a strange creature appears. It neutralizes the besieged defenders and then in a short period of time disappears again.

After the withdrawal of the E'Valenters, Ikanema Two becomes an engineer in response to the fact that he cannot find any means to leave the planet. However, he is viewed by the planetís inhabitants with distrust; as a potential spy of the empire. At the end of one year, he learns the reason for the punitive expedition of the E'Valenters. The Aeusiens have opposed the Tradom Empire for many centuries and have already been punished five times. His superior, Kirg, shows him a dusty substance containing in fact nanomachines which can bring the entire industry of the planet completely to a halt.

Ikanema Two ends up leaving the planet aboard the old cargo ship ZIGZAG, taking his friend Tratto with him. The captain, Pirguso, is an enthusiast of archeology. He particularly interests himself with the civilization of Thatrix that disappeared more than one hundred thousand years ago. He has discovered one hundred twenty planets that are not registered on the official maps but all are now only heaps of ash. They almost certainly are ancient worlds of the civilization of Thatrix.

When the cargo ship comes back to Aeusen XIV some time later, the entire civilization of the planet has been wiped out.

All these events begin to transform Ikanema Two into an enemy of the Tradom Empire and the "Inquisition of the Reason" that governs it. He then becomes aware that the face on his chest is taking on a life of its own (in other words, he is pregnant), and prepares to give birth by parthenogenesis. But the ZIGZAG is suddenly attacked by pirates. Ikanema (who loses his unborn child) and two members of crew are the only ones to survive the crash of the ZIGZAG on a planet. While dying, Tratto reveals herself to be a messenger of the Debris Empire. She informs him that a star window is going to open in the Roanna Sector and that the Conqueror Trah Rogue is equipping a fleet of AGLAZAR battleships (Katamars).

The planet where they are stranded is inhabited by the pacifists Paculliens. With their help, a hypercom transmitter is retrieved from the wreckage of the ZIGZAG. A police force arrives and recovers the shipwrecked victims and, after an odyssey of eleven years, Ikanema Two can finally return to Pombar.

Ikanema Two becomes the ruler of the planet Pombar but he increasingly feels doubts towards the empire. At the time of a diplomatic visit to the planet Sepold, he is surprised to meet once again his old friend, the Rhiskanesche Kara Ascarde, who now is part of a pirate gang. She must be executed. She only asks that Ikanema returns her life stone to her people. A little time later, Ikanema receives a visit from a Prymbo who announces to him that the Debris Empire wants Ikanema to join its ranks.

On Jankar, Ascari da Vivo decides to leave with the KARRIBO for the sector thought to be a PULSE. She will be accompanied by Roxo Quatron and the CoJito hunter. Rhodan, himself, departs with the LEIF ERIKSSON for the Siepan Sector. There, he receives a distress call from the PHOENIX stating that it is in serious danger.

Michael P. Mahoney 2007-03-25

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