2269 - Die Todesgruppe
The Death Group
Horst Hoffmann

Atlan and General Traver are on the move with three Shozide T- cruisers in the middle of enemy country to get information about the military strength of Tagg Kharzani's troops. They want to try to carry off a strategic star map. Therefore, the T-cruisers fly to the Kher system, the heart of Kharzani's empire, - there, they have the chance to pull an important tip from the radio traffic. News is caught that there is a Kybb space fort in the Ashaween system, but no mobile hostile armed forces, especially no Kybb-Titans. This fort would be perfect for their purpose. In addition, Traver uses the short stay in the Kher system to show Atlan that an artificial dust cloud, which allows no sensor detection inside it, surrounds the whole solar system. What is really inside the huge cloud of dust remains completely veiled.

Boarding parties are required for the attack on the space fort. The Death Group, a practiced team of the eighty best and hardest Shozide male and female fighters who also call themselves, with pleasure, the " Iron "and the "Steel" takes over this job. They live only for the fight. There is no spare time for them - between their missions they are endlessly training, and it is brutal. The newest, and at first not properly accepted member of the Death Group is Rorkhete. The former nomad had crept aboard Atlan's T-cruiser ELEBATO as a stowaway to escape from his existence as a breeding bull, and wanted to train under the Death Group. His martial comrades had impressed him so that he stubbornly remains, until they allow him to train with the Iron. During the following days, while the ELEBATO flies with its two sister ships to the Kher system and afterwards to the Kybb space fort, Rorkhete takes the worst beating of his life with the Iron at first. However, bit by bit, he learns and manages to earn some respect. He is then even grudgingly allowed to take part in the attack on the fort.

The penetration runs well in the beginning, in spite of the violent opposition of the Kybbs. The Shozides have to mourn only a few deaths, but the main computers of the station are cracked. Exactly the information they are looking for is stored there. However, the Kybb are attempting to overload a fusion reactor unnoticed, in order to destroy the station, which would also take along the T-cruisers floating nearby to their doom. Rorkhete alone manages to catch onto this plan just in time. On his own, he slows down the Kybbs long enough for reinforcements to arrive. He is badly wounded in the process, but lives and because of this heroic deed is now a full and respected member of the Death Group.

Even as the three T-cruisers try to make a getaway, twenty cylinder discs of the Kybb appear. While the T-cruisers would be able to deal with this menace, unfortunately the massive amounts of energy being released attract the attention of the two Hyperdimos rumored to be in the area to the ships. One of the huge beings rushes at the cylinder discs, while the second takes a direct course on the ELEBATO, which cannot avoid it and is radiated into hyperspace. When the two other T-cruisers arrive back on Gray Foam, they have to deliver not only the star map, which is important for the war, but also the sad news: Atlan is presumably dead! The time of death is given as September 27th, 1332 NGE, 03:08 AM. There is an even more frightful announcement coming in at the same time: The Kybbs have destroyed the planet Silhoo, one of Carya Andaxi's shadow government worlds.

Cedric Beust 2005-05-11

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