2295 - Die Rückkehr
The Return
Andreas Eschbach

In the Vega system they are working with high pressure on the installation of the twenty-four the new USO supplied dissonance cannons into the heavy units of the Terran fleet. New dissonance cannons cannot be built on Ferrol, because the Ferrones are not able to understand hyper-dimensional connections due to the way their minds work - they cannot copy the modules needed for dissonance cannons well enough. On May 15, 1333 NGE NATHAN passes on a message from Reginald Bull to Perry Rhodan, informing him that the fifty Kybb-Titans are in the process of heating up Sol until it goes nova. As Rhodan also learns that this process will become irreversible at the latest on May 27th, twelve days away, so he arranges an attack on the Sol system, which is to take place within twenty-four hours.

On May 16th, the Terran fleet arrives in the Sol system. Only three Kybb-Titans oppose it, because one must continue to guard the obelisk relay, and the fifty others must continue to heat up Sol - obviously Gon-O cannot afford to release even one ship from it. Once more the surprise effect is on the side of the Terrans, because the Kybbs do not suspect that there is not only one dissonance cannon, but that two dozen of the ships, in addition to the TRAJAN, are equipped with them. Thus the fleet succeeds in blasting apart another Kybb-Titan. The two others however play a cat and mouse game with the Terran naval forces, which must distribute themselves over the whole Sol system and not approach close enough to the Kybb- Titans heating up Sol o get blown up themselves.

But all these engagements are actually serving only as a diversion. In reality Rhodan is only concerned with retrieving some thousand machines that NATHAN secretly produced and deposited into a storage depot on Luna's dark side in Zwiebus Crater. A commando mission retrieves the modules, having only an approximately twenty minute time window for it. That is how long a quasi-shadow is thrown between the Earth and Moon - the Kybb-Titan stationed over Vesuvius would have to shoot through the obelisk relay itself, the Earth and the Moon to hit them. And the Titan is not about to destroy the obelisk relay. But the Kybb-Titan cannot move away from its location over Vesuvius, because then the Terrans would have a free field of fire on the obelisk relay. The idea of this strategy of "absolute binding" came to Rhodan during a round of correspondence chess, which he is playing against a simple First lieutenant of the fleet.

The plan threatens to fail, when Derek Pander, a technician, who was involuntarily stranded on a DISCOVERER, tries to stay behind on the Moon. He hides himself in the storage depot, in order to then return quietly and secretly to Terra and his family. If Gon-O caught him and mentally took him over, then he would learn what had been stored in the depot in Zwiebus Crater. That would make all of Rhodan's planning fail in vain. At the last moment, Pander is talked into reason and returns to his DISCOVERER. The fleet withdraws with the retrieved containers to the Wega system. Rhodan achieved his goal, but the price for it is high: Over two hundred heavy combat ships and more than one thousand cruisers were destroyed, and the human losses reach into the hundreds of thousands.

Now Rhodan reveals the actual goal of Operation CRYSTAL TOWER II to his command officers. The manufactured modules on Luna are nothing less than exactly the components of dissonance cannons, which could not be built on Ferrol! With these modules, altogether one thousand two hundred and twenty dissonance cannons can be installed. Can one thus say that the mission was worthwhile? Yes. But deep inside himself, Rhodan hopes that he will never think in such a way. That he will never regard the humans, who trust him so much, as figures in a game of chess, which one can indiscriminately sacrifice...

Jerry Schneiderman 2005-10-30

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