2316 - Rivalen der Kolonne
The Colony Rival
Arndt Ellmer

The Dual Captain Zerberoff arrives with his Chaos squadron at the location of Column-Fort TRAICOON 0096; more accurately, where TRAICOON 0096 should be. Column-Fort TRAICOON 0099, together with 6 TRAICAH Factories, are currently stationed there. TRAICOON 0096 is stationed at Clayson’s star. The exchange is problematic anyway because TRAICOON 0099 is not finished yet. To find out the reason for the exchange, Zerberoff boards the Colony-Fort.

There, he comes upon Tafferier. The Deputy Captain was created from a Mor'Daer and humanoid Awour, the species from which the headhunters of TRAITOR come. He hates Zerberoff because of an old experience where he saved Zerberoff’s hide and Zerberoff gave no acknowledgment of it. But he must accept the fact that Zerberoff is taking command of TRAICOON 0099, due to Tafferier's lower rank.

Zerberoff speeds up completion of the Fort, and with time he recognizes that the Terrans have found a method to locate the dark screen. When they discover the location of the Fort, however, it is too late, for the defensive weapons on TRAICOON 0099 are ready to fire. The Terrans and Arkonides are wise enough, however, to not come too close to the Fort.

On Caiwan a kind of tentative friendship has formed between the Arkonides and Caiwanes. The Caiwanes mine Khalumvatt and sell it to the Arkonides. In return, they are granted political autonomy. It is only figuratively, since an official four hundred eleven light years from Hayok actually controls them.

The Orbton Valthero, whose transfer to Thantur Lok is closely approaching, flies directly after work to an isolated mountain hut, where he meets his girlfriend Aya. To his fright, he finds the mountain in chaos, the ground shaking, and avalanches falling down. The plateau on which his mountain hut stoods doesn't exist anymore. His beloved Aya is still alive fortunately, as the Schaspakes, snake-like beings, saved her.

At the request of Aya, Valthero flies to meet with Dando Gentury. The ancient leader of the Caiwanes informs the Arkonides that the Schaspakes are responsible for the disorder because they are shifting location due to a disturbance of the energy field of the planet in the east. The military leadership of the Arkonides on Caiwan assumes that the disturbance caused by the energy field leads back to the radiation emissions of a spaceship. They think it is a trick to chase the Arkonides from Caiwan. However, when the disturbance seems to have dissipated the next day and the Caiwanes offer to mine ten days for free, as a thank you for Valthero’s kindness, the general Hogath da Morgan finally decides that there must have been be a TRAITOR unit near Caiwan.

On TRAICOON 0099, Zerberoff waits in vain for the arrival of the True-Progress. When the Fort’s hypercrystal supplies begin to run out in September 1344 NGE, he sends the COLUMN Factory TRAICAH 1003 to Caiwan to retrieve the hypercrystals that are certainly inferior, but exist in large amounts there. While he accompanies the Factory, he gives command of the Fort back to Tafferier.

When the Column-Factory arrives at Caiwan, the units of the Crystal Empire present there flee. The inhabitants of the planet are abandoned. The hypercrystals on Caiwan are mined with the application of interval ray-cylinders and a hyperloading division process.

What this means in effect, Valthero and Aya experience in person. A fire cylinder sweeps over Caiwan and extinguishes all life. Only Valthero and Aya, as well as some Caiwanes which have withdrawn into their caves, survive. The following morning the Caiwanes perish in pain because their symbionts, the Schaspakes, fell victim to the conflagration and therefore cannot detoxify their blood any longer. Valthero and Aya become eyewitness to how the Terminal Column mines a planet. TRAICAH 1003 divides into five parts and then sends out sloops. These crafts use rays which transform all organic matter up to four hundred meters deep into cinder. Only the hypercrystal is left and taken aboard the factories. Valthero and Aya succeed in escaping the rays. They hope that the Column will depart after its work is done and that they will be able to transmit the information they have been recording. But as they find out after a few days, their hope was in vain. During their last minutes of life, the two see how the Column-Factory blows up Caiwan in order to get to the deeper existing raw materials.

Meanwhile, aboard TRAICAH-1003 Tafferier sneaks aboard and challenges Zerberoff to a final battle to the death. Zerberoff manages to win the psychic battle and kills Tafferier, using the experience he had gained with Marc London. Neverheless, the battle totally drains his energy. It is days before he is able to speak to his deputy on TRAICOON 0099, an officer of the rank of Kalbaron. He is informed that the True-Progress is being delayed by events in another part of the universe. Zerberoff draws his conclusions from this information and orders the "dark obelisks“ brought into position to have the first part of the "sending" begun.

Jerry Schneiderman 2006-04-16

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