2400 - Zielziet
Target Time
Robert Feldhoff

In the spring of 1346 Dickland stands as one of the few parts of the Milky Way not under the control of the Terminal Column TRAITOR, which is using its vast power in the service of the Chaoslords to secure the resources of the Milky Way to ensure the creation of the Negasphere in the galaxy Hangay.

Present Day, 8 April 1346 NGZ

Perry Rhodan is at work in the Solar Residence. He has kept his plan of action secret from even his closest aides. Earth is being kept safe by the Terranova shield, but for how long? One mistake and it will be all over for Earth and the Terrans. Rhodan arranges a four way holo-confrence with Bully, Mondra, Homer. Bull is first to realize that this is connected with Operation Tempus.

Later, Rhodan is at the shipyard at the edge of Terrania, where he is looking at one of the new ultra-battleships of the Terran Fleet, the 2.5 km diameter Jupiter Class. He is joined by Mondra Diamond, Homer G. Adams and Reginald Bull. A Ganymede tender from the Charon Cloud has reached Earth, carrying with it an Agorrian Context Transducer and a team to operate it. A time machine!

260,000 Traitanks, the powerful battleships of their enemy, wait outside the Solar System, kept out from Earth only because the Terranova Fleet and the Nucleus of the Monochrome Mutants never relaxed their guard. 200 million terrans are working at their battle stations, ready to engage the enemy if ever the shield should collapse.

The RICHARD BURTON, under the command of Atlan is on the way to Hangay, ready to carry out a strike against the forces there.

Rhodan explains to his three friends why he's been so secretive, and that the defensive measures around Eath have at best five years. After that, Earth and humanity will cease to exist. Although the device can work as a time machine, Rhodan points out that undoing something like the invasion of the Milky Way is beyond its capabilities. Next, Rhodan takes them to a secret area on the moon. Inside Rhodan shows them the Jules Verne, the ship that is to carry the time machine, a smaller copy of the SOL. There is a limit to how much mass can be moved through time, which is why the ship isnt one of the ultra battleships - but as they will be going back before the Hyper Impedance shock of 1331, they will be able to use a lot of technology that had stopped working due to it.

Next they are introduced to Col. Lanz Ahakin, commander of the Jules Verne. Rhodan apologizes to Bull over the secrecy but points out that acting behind the TERMINAL COLUMN is a super intelligence that could pic kup the smallest of hints and work out what the Terrans are up to. He also breaks the news to Bull and Adams that they will be staying behind, and that the target time will not be told to them to avoid any chance of the information leaking.

After packing a suitcase at home, Mondra goes to visit a doctor. Although she doesn't carry a cell activator it would appear that her body no longer ages. Has she become immortal? The doctor believes she has been exposed to a cell shower, the technology that It used to use before It scattered cell activators across the galaxy. Given her involvement with It, the doctor suspects that the super intelligence is behind this situation.

Rhodan returns to his quarters and finds Lotho Keraete, the messenger of It, waiting for him. Thirty years have passed since It had left the Milky Way to an unknown destination. Keraete carries a seductive offer from It: to offer humanity a chance to flee, to become a part of space where the Terminal Column has no influence. Rhodan declines, even though the robot expresses grave doubts about the success of his mission. He also brings a gift, a silver ball that can be used to send a message to It if Rhodan should change his mind.

April 12. The ship is ready and Rhodan and Diamond are joined by Gucky, Icho Tolot and Alaska Saedelaere. The various parts of the ship are joined together. Rhodan conducts a briefing, 20 million years ago the superintelligence Archetim carried out a succesful retrovision when an attempt was made to turn the galaxy Tare Scharm into a negasphere. Their mission is to go back, understand what Archetim did and bring that knowledge back to the present so it can be applied to Hangay. They must not get involved or let the knowledge that Archetim perished in the retrovision as that could change history. Any action at all could cause history to split and they would never be able to return to their own time but would be trapped in a parallel world.

20.059.813 BC

General Kamuko is interrupted with an urgent message. 300 Traitanks are attacking the shipyards in the Caso Triteus system, almost next door to Oaghonyr, Archetim's base world. But she refuses to act as it would betray their location - she knows that billions will die as a result but she is firm. Her forces are 680,000 space ships and 5 giant Treck tenders. They are almost ready to set out for the final showdown in the battle fields of Tare Scharm but the signal for departure could not be given until Archetim gave the instruction. The attack on Caso Triteus she knew was a diversion, designed to stop their departure, something her staff could not understand.

The forces of order believe that Archetim has been fighting in Tare Scharm but in fact, it returned in secret to its home world twenty years before. Kamuko attempts to contact the Super Interlligence but gets no response. She then sets off to its HQ, she is able to contact Archetim but is not able to communicate with it. The super-intelligence seems worn out and broken and the general realizes it is all down to her.

1346 NGZ

The Jules Verne makes the dramatic jump into the past. The jump puts a tremendous stress on all crew and there are some injuries. Slowly the crew are treated and come around. Finally the news comes through - they are back to 20.059.813 BC, 4 years before Archetim's death. As a side effect of the jump, the ship is giving off a strong, blue radiation which they are unable to stop or explain.

Unable to fly, the ship is a sitting target. After two hours a fleet of 250 ship appears and demands that they surrender or be destroyed. These ships belong to System. While talking to their leader more ships arrive, this time Traitanks and a battle breaks out. The Jules Verne manages to get some propulsion going and limps away from the battle. However it is unable to escape into linear flight. The System forces drive off the Traitanks and Rhodan is told to expect a boarding party.

Gucky is able to confirm that they are opposed to the forces of Chaos and their leader, Rimmfal, recognizes Rhodan's Knight Aura. General Kamuko shows a similar aura. While Rimmfal is thinking how he can make his career from this contact, Rhodan decides to tell almost the entire reason for their visit. Not entirely convinced Rimmfal promises to send a tender to take the damaged ship in hand. A few hours later it arrives. Rhodan learns that their time machine may be broken beyond repair.

Twenty hours later they arrive at Oaghonyr. While they wait to see if the General will meet with the Terrans, they spend their time monitoring the planet and the communications from the great fleet gathered there to see what they can learn. They don't have long to wait. The General comes to visit. In a short meeting, she grants the Jules Verne permission to land on the planet and arranges another meeting. During a meeting with Rhodan and his friends, some thieves manage to break into the General's most secret vault which holds a weapon from Archetim. The thieves appear to have a teleporter amongst them and the General immediately links the theft to Gucky, whom Rhodan has admitted to being a teleporter. The Dick Verne is locked down at the space port and Rhodan and friends are arrested.

Gucky manages to teleport Mondra and Perry away from the General and her guard. At the same time Icho Tolot and the Jules Verne break free. Gucky is able to teleport them to the command centre but escaping from the planet may be more of a problem. Instead Rhodan sends the Verne to Archetim's stronghold. By flying into the protection field around the stronghold they are teleported out into space.

While the escape is happening, the General is informed that the stolen weapon has returned. The Jules Verne escapes but is badly damaged and the General is left puzzled. Rhodan retrieves the message device from It and reluctantly sends the message to It, hoping that it will not be used. The thieves plan to track down Rhodan.

Cedric Beust 2007-09-11

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