2437 - Die immaterielle Stadt
The Immaterial City
Uwe Anton

August 18, 1346 NGE begins extremely positively for Homer G. Adams, because he gets the news that Roi Danton lives and is already with an USO convoy on the way to Quinto-Center. And Reginald Bull has sent back a SCARAB through the Teletrans Point whose crew reports that everything is all right on the other side. However, soon there is new annoyance. Lotho Keraete, who still stays extremely uncommunicative and cannot be lured from his reserve, announces the existence of the Stardust System arbitrarily in full public. The press naturally spreads this information immediately. To prevent a mass panic, Adam's must confirm Keraete’s information in a news conference. Nevertheless, he gains points when he announces that the Stardust system is already being personally examined by Bull and that some selected representatives of the press may participate with the flight of the next group of Scarabs.

Not all the people are immediately inspired by Keraete’s offer to evacuate the Sol system. The Globists are particularly resistant, because they do not see why they should give up what they have defended so hard for all this time. Then Keraete pulls a new trump from up his sleeve and presents the Holo-message which Perry Rhodan had sent on the in April, shortly after the context jump, with a silver ball. Rhodan leaves the decision about the offer of the superintelligence up to each individual Terran and says in encouragement that while he is proud of anyone that will stay, he would not take offense at any person who decides to take up the offer. Adams is angry about the fact that ES evidently received this message months ago and kept it hidden all this time. However, still worse is to come. On the twenty-fourth of August he receives the news that Roi Danton’s convoy was intercepted by Traitanks and almost completely destroyed. Nobody knows whether Rhodan’s son could escape in time...

On the other side of the Teletrans Point the habitable planets of the Stardust system are explored by Reginald Bull and his companions: the paradisiacal world Aveda as well as Zyx, Trondgarden and the relatively inhospitable planet Cataract. Reginald Bull goes to the last of these, because a forbidden zone is there, according to Keraete’s information: the continent Aumark. Bull supposes that ES wanted to awaken the curiosity of the Terrans with this information. On Cataract ruins are to be found everywhere. There was obviously once a highly developed civilization here. Marc London points out the presence of five immaterial cities which can be perceived only optically, not with sensors. Every city has another color, and each radiates a kind of siren’s call, if one enters into them. The fulfillment of all one’s wishes is promised. In the fifth city, which has a pearly white color things are different. Here there is a passage, the so-called shadow gate, through which one can actually enter the city. Bull, London and Dr. Carapol cross this passage and suddenly find themselves amongst living being from different races, who all give a lethargic impression.

A being similar to a man-sized cat that introduces himself as Aru Khaltaaquee gives some explanations to the Terrans. The city carries the name Prymtuor and seems to possess its own consciousness. It is on an eternal tour of three hundred twenty-one planets, and with its mental siren’s song it enlists new inhabitants. Bull is surprised when Khaltaaquee says that the city had been built by beings which live longer than the sun. To his horror he finds out that while the city certainly promises its inhabitants peace and a long life, it also ensures that the fact that they lose all ambitions - and most of all that it keeps traveling on to the next destination once it has taken on the new inhabitants, like in the case of Bull, London and Carapol! Prymtuor has already move on to another planet, which is possibly also in another time or another universe. Bull finds out that the city is steered from the Time Center, but that nobody that has gone looking for it has ever returned. The three Terrans succeed in entering the Time Center. And here, so Bull supposes, ES begins one more time to play little game with the people. They must disassemble three damaged cage transmitters in order to build a functional one, and these devices are identical to the ones used in the Galactic Riddle. At the same moment the Terrans are disturbed by a mental influence. Finally, they reach the actual Time Center over the transmitter, where the para-gifted Marc London succeeds in steering the city back to Cataract. The Terrans must hurry up to leave Prymtuor, before it travels on again – fortunately, the city puts no great barrier in their way.

Back in his SCARAB, Bull learns about Lotho Keraete’s "news conference". It is clear to him that an exodus of mankind to the Stardust system cannot be prevented now any more, and that he stands under even more pressure now to make sure it can be done safely...

Jerry Schneiderman 2009-01-14

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