2308 - Die Schattenlosen
The Shadowless
Horst Hoffmann

Bully, Fran Imith, Bré Tsinga and Gucky are on the BUENOS AIRES, the new EX-1 of the Explorer fleet, flying through the star ocean of Jamondi, on a goodwill tour of the new LFT colony worlds there. On the way from Tan Jamondi II to Mykronoer they briefly register a strange ship, which however immediately disappears again from the Kantor ultra-instrument sensor. They then come upon a solar system, which is not registered on any of the charts. They approach the only world of the system, which lies in the biosphere range. There the spacemen meet the Novantes, a young race whose development has been steered until now by The Shadowless; nine black obelisks, which do not cast a shadow.

As Gucky quickly finds out, these are nine Cynos, but they are alive and not dead ones, as is usually the case with obelisks of this race. The Nine are in an uproar, because they have received an important message, which they cannot receive well enough to understand.

With Gucky's, assistance they succeed in understanding it. It is a message from the Pangalactic Statisticians, who warn the obelisks about the Negasphere that will appear in Hangay. The message urges the Nine to immediately leave the planet and come to safety with them. The Terrans are very surprised at the rush, for it means the Negasphere must be developing faster than imagined.

Gucky learns from the nine Cynos that they fled from the galaxy Tare Scharm eons ago, where there was great danger for them, a danger they have long ago forgotten the details of. It is obvious to the Galactics, however, that it must have been the development of the other Negasphere that ARCHETIM had fought against.

Suddenly the sensor reading, which the Explorer had received earlier, occurs again. The ship heads right for them and turns out to be a cobalt-blue cylinder seven kilometers long, like the ones used by the Cairol robots of the Cosmocrats. The ship does not react to radio calls. Both the Terrans and the Cynos have the feeling down to their core that they are being analyzed – then the cylinder leaves again, as much a mystery as it was before.

The Cynos wants to leave also, but they have lost their sense of spatial orientation. Gucky arranges for the Explorer ship’s Emotionaut, Arthur Eizmet, who has fallen ill with the deadly Coldox plague, which has been hitting only Emotionauts, to give up his body and join with the community of Cynos. He will be their navigator and thereby fulfill his life’s dream of journeying through the depths of the universe. Thus the Cynos can now leave the planet with the supposed goal of joining the Pangalactic Statisticians on Wassermal. But they first leave a gift for the Terrans; a data crystal with a set of coordinates.

The coordinates lie in the Charon Cloud, 26,930 light-years away from Jamondi. As it happens, Atlan is already heading there to help the ships exploring the area. Bull has set course for it, letting the goodwill trip wait. But first he must say good-bye to Jan Shruyver, who has decided to remain with Ela on the world of the Novantes. This Novante woman had experienced a terrible time and been helped back towards mental well-being on the BUENOS AIRES by the young Cosmopsychologist. In the process, he realized that his naturist leanings were drawing him to stay.

On April 20, 1344 NGE the Explorer sets off in the direction of the Charon Cloud. Before going to hyperlight, a message comes from Julian Tifflor, who was staying on Tan Jamondi II. He reports that a Column-Fort has been discovered in the proximity of Hayok. In its company is a Chaos-squadron, consisting of 484 ships, which are assumed to be the relay under the command of Zerberoff.

Jerry Schneiderman 2006-01-29

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