2410 - Der Kontaktwald
The Contact Forest
Horst Hoffmann

After they break through the border dam around the galaxy Hangay, the Hangay squadron searches for protection from Traitanks in the detection protection of the corona of a nearby sun, from which the squadron has been radioed. In the corona, they meet two Trimaranes of the Kartanin and their commander Rea-Chi-D'un, who have been observing the conspicuously frequent troop movement by TRAITOR in this sector from there and thus noted the arrival of the Hangay squadron.

Atlan finds out that TRAITOR has smashed practically all political structures in Hangay during recent years and taken over full power. But there is an opposition movement made up of the most important races in the galaxy, which has given itself the name Noquaa-Kansahariyya ("New Kansahariyya" Ė or briefly NK - in memory of old times), but it is no more than a community of the desperate. There are no purposeful actions being taken against TRAITOR.

Atlan declares himself an ally of the NK and receives the co-ordinates of one of their so-called segment planets, the world Quamoto. On the way there they encounter inexplicable course divergences by the ships. Rea-Chi explains that it concerns a phenomenon that is "normal" in the meantime, which are presumably to be led back to the fact that the known physical laws are being abolished bit by bit in Hangay. On Quamoto Atlan visits a conference of the local NK council and assures the people of Hangay of the aid of the Galactics. He finds out that the center of Hangay, an area only a few light years wide, is not accessible any more and is apparently the main focus of the activities of TRAITOR. In addition, the locations of so-called Proto-chaotic cells are known to the NK, and one of them is not far away from Quamoto.

On Quamoto is a circular, fifteen kilometer wide contact forest, a communal plant being apparently equipped with its own consciousness, which resembles the plant fathers of Segafrendo. This being holds contact with the contact forests of the other segment planets of the Noquaa-Kansahariyya. The communication is made in real time with virtually no time loss to the other contact forests. In this manner news can be spread in spite of the raised hyperimpedance by which the armed forces of the NK are otherwise strongly hindered. Contact forest speakers are required for communication with the contact forests. Afa-Hem-F'ur is the contact forest speaker for Quamoto and a Koda Ariel form converter that has apparently been active on this planet for a good amount of time already attacks her. Startac Schroeder hears her mental cry for help just in time, so that the Koda Ariel can be killed as it is taking on Afa-Hemís form.

Afa-Hem later brings Atlan into the "heart" of the contact forest - an unusual occurrence, because ordinarily it allows nobody by the speaker herself into its core. Atlan makes it clear to the contact forest that Quamoto is no longer safe and must be abandoned. It appears that the contact forest has a certain authority to issue directives to the NK, because the contact forest determines the planet Kosichi as a new base for the NK. While the preparations for the evacuation of the base are still in progress, the whole contact forest frees itself from the surface of the planet. Apparently the forest itself is not the mysterious living being, but something inside a kind of spaceship on which the forest stands. The disc shaped ship accelerates and disappears into hyperspace.

Atlanís next destination is the Proto-chaotic cell whose co-ordinates he had received from the Kartanin, while at the same time the Hangay squadron will support the Kartanins with the move to Kosichi. Atlan finds out that the former Kartanin contact forest speaker, a woman with the peculiar name Ar-Dus-Taar (it reminds Atlan of the name of a planet in the Pinwheel galaxy), has supposedly been missing for a long time in the Proto-chaotic cell. On July 19, 1346 NGE the RICHARD BURTON begins its journey there.

jerry schneiderman 2008-05-20

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