2268 - Das Paragonkreuz
The Paragon Cross
Horst Hoffmann

In the SWORD, Rhodan, Zephyda and Lyressea approach the planet Petac where the Paragon Cross is supposed to have been hidden. The planet is only weakly protected by the Kybbs - no Kybb-Titan is present and the hedgehog beings have barely started re-equipping everything to old technology. Therefore, is the SWORD is discovered only with the actual landing approach, and the pursuers can be easily shaken off. Lyressea feels the presence of the Paragon Cross, but she cannot locate it its precise location.

The crew of the SWORD accidentally causes great grief for the Tabtrees, the relatively primitive humanoid natives of this world. The swarm of Kybb hunters who were attempting to intercept the SWORD races through the middle of a flying wedding procession of a Tabtree tribe and inadvertantly kills the whole royal family. A holy icon is lost, a holo-globe which was left behind by Carya Andaxi during her last visit, millennia ago, and has been revered since that time by the Tabtrees, just like the Protector herself. Sonder fan Dor, the priest of the Tabtrees, holds himself guilty for the death of the royal family and the loss of the icon, and reflects upon revenge. He enters the holy mountain Gorithon whose entrance is only known by the priest. There is an artifact there, which is supposed to be a mighty weapon. With it, he wants to destroy the Kybbs that maintain a base on Petac.

After Rhodan and his people learn in the Tabtree settlement about the whole unfortunate affair, they follow the priest, but cannot prevent him from being captured by the Kybbs. The artifact - possibly a hand emitter without enough energy - turned out to be ineffective. Because Rhodan supposes that the Paragon Cross is also in the holy mountain, it is decided that the priest must be rescued, before the Kybbs can interrogate him. This mission succeeds - but only because Lyressea is able, on account of her share of Cyno genes, to temporarily take on the figure of a Kybb-Traken. After returning to the SWORD, some tricks are necessary to dissuade the priest from his feelings of guilt and thoughts of suicide (they use a holo of Carya Andaxi with Echophage's manipulated voice), but then he leads Rhodan, Zephyda and Lyressea into the holy mountain.

Inside the cave there, float seven circularly arranged cuneiform "graves" which throw no shadow. Perry wonders if they have any relation to Cynos. In the middle of the circle stands a base, but it is empty it is where the emitter which Sonder fan Dor took had lain.

Lyressea, who now clearly feels the presence of the Paragon Cross right there, even though it cannot be seen, tries to take up mental contact with it. The Paragon Cross then appears in a brilliant light show: it is a fiercely shining, two meter high and one meter wide energy spiral from which an oppressively strong mental radiation emanates. The Paragon Cross carries not only a splinter of consciousness of the superintelligence ES, but is an independent being. This already reveals itself when it refuses at first to stand by the Alliance of Morality. Only after a passionate pleading by Lyressea and an angry scolding by Perry does it change its opinion, assure them of its support and teleport itself into the SWORD.

Before they fly off, Rhodan hands a new holo-globe to the priest Sonder fan Dor and gives him the (of course, phony) message from Carya Andaxis to not commit suicide, so that he can train a new priest and lead his people to a new beginning.

Cedric Beust 2005-05-11

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