2509 - Insel im Nebel
Island in the Fog
Horst Hoffmann

In 1377 NGE is a Timber F. Whistler ne hundred fifty-two years old, has held six terms of office as Administrator of Stardust mankind following each other and on January 1, 1350 NGE created the union of the Stardust planets and concerns him with the advancement of his people. Certainly, he also thinks that ES has brought the emigrants to the Stardust system for a very specific, still unknown reason, but he by no means shares the views of a much larger growing number of people who are convinced that it is their destiny to rise into ES. The former splinter party of the Birds of Paradise represents these people and, meanwhile, has become Whistler’s strongest competitor. Their head Vorremar Corma - the single Siganese moved into the Stardust system – does not hold back from staging extravagantly poignant public appearances during the election and uses Huslik Valting as a figurehead. Valting is first of a number of people who were rejuvenated by a gold shower of sparks. The Birds of Paradise consider this phenomenon as a sign for the fact that ES is still taking care of Stardust mankind, despite Lotho Keraete’s statements. Whistler fears that the passivity propagated by the Birds of Paradise could endanger the continued construction of the colonies already having difficulties and rebounds.

When Whistler and his closest familiar Duncan Legrange are flying in a glider on June 2, 1377 NGE on the planet Cataract on the way to an election campaign, they end up in a thunderstorm over the Goo Mesa and crash. When it is maintained that Whistler has withdrawn from the political stage - Corma is elected the new Administrator. Meanwhile, Legrange and Maximilian Lexa - the latter now a colonel and commander of the Stardust-Explorer fleet - observe on August fourth in the protection of deflector fields how Corma and Valting penetrate in secret into the Stardust-rock needle and try in vain to decipher the still unresolved puzzles in the Hall of a Thousand Tasks. Rikoph Furtok suddenly arrives. He has also received wind of the event and reproaches Corma with the fact that he has abused his office to appropriate the newest scientific knowledge about the puzzles. Furtok also evidently desires the immortality and forces Corma to work with him on the puzzle. Still camouflaged Legrange and Lexa follow the two to Cataract. Meanwhile, the Rokingers there have created new settlements and begun the construction of a hypercrystal-processing industry. Sharud Thurbund is their leader.

Corma and Furtok meet Thurbund to have him tell them more about an old legend of the Rokingers, which is about an island in the fog. The Indochimi of Zyx also have such a legend. When Thurbund is set under pressure by Corma, Legrange and Lexa give up their camouflage and intervene. Because it is completely clear to the Rok that the Terrans will get what they want to have by force if necessary, he reveals the coordinates of the island in the fog to them. The odd quartet flies with a glider to this position. On the way they observe enormous sea living beings which can rise on wings into the air, and end up being hit by one them, then fly into a two thousand six hundred fifty kilometer wide and one hundred kilometer fog bank which causes fear to appear in them and prevents all technical detection. Lexa steers the glider into the middle of the fog, then the machine becomes pulled by an unknown force down onto the two thousand kilometer wide, paradisiacal island. A few kilometer before the north coast of the oval island a dome rises from the water. Beings similar to centaurs and innumerable butterflies are to be seen in the wooded slopes of a mountain. A Vojaride - a " midwife of ES “ walks towards the newcomers. She announces, that they are not “ the correct ones”, and sends them away, but only after she helps them to a kind of self-knowledge - for example, is is made clear to Corma that his single motivation for finding immortality consists in being able to return to the Milky Way and to his family. The only one not apparently given a vision is Legrange. When the intruders leave the fog, they find themselves on Aveda, and four months have passed – it is December tenth.

On December eighteenth Whistler awakes from a six month long coma in the headquarters of his firm. He is medically examined and then finds out that he had suffered deadly injuries in the glider crash. Most of his body was not to be saved and been replaced with a full prosthesis. Only the brain is left from the original Whistler, stuck in a robot body. The skin and certain parts of the body were replaced with genetically improved post-cultivations. Whistler suffers from the thought of being nothing more than a cyborg, because in the public the rumor has gone around for a long time already that the members of the Whistler family are nothing else than robots of the firm itself. Nevertheless, he has won a form of immortality in this way. In a press release from January 1, 1379 NGE Whistler announces that he wants to finally withdraw from public life.

In the meantime Corma’s star has sunk rapidly. In 1382 NGE the new Administrator Telmach Istban is elected, coming from the Association for Local Peace. Maximilian Lexa, an admiral since 1385 NGE, is on the way with the ARGOS - the flagship of his explorer fleet consisting of twenty cruisers of the Phoenix class - at the end of May 1388 NGE in the border area of the Far Away star cluster. On May twenty-seventh he meets Rikoph Furtok, who is meanwhile running a small merchant fleet. One of these ships has made a sensational discovery: an unmanned space probe that has been traveling for three hundred forty-five thousand years at speeds under the speed of light. This is - apart from the ruin cities of Cataract, the Rokingers and the Indochimis - so far the single sign for the presence of other intelligent beings in Far Away.

The course of the probe which has covered only thirty-two light years in all that time is backtracked. Its starting point is one of three planets of a nameless sun. There one hundred eighty thousand year old ruins are found under which the degenerated descendants of the former inhabitants live. These are apelike beings with lion heads which have fallen back into primitiveness. Only a single energy source is located. It is a structure in the form of a snow crystal which does not consist of " normal matter “ - Huslik Valtings team had discovered exactly such a structure at one time in the Irthom Mesa on Cataract.

At the beginning of January 1389 NGE Whistler receives a visit from Sigurd Echnatom. The former Minister of Finance has retired for some time as the leading candidate of the Brother's Help party and therefore from the government. Echnatom hands over to Whistler a storage crystal with photographs which unambiguously prove that Duncan Legrange had manipulated the glider with which Whistler had the accident. Four weeks later Whistler confronts his friend, who denies everything. It comes to discord between the two, and Whistler asks himself whether Legrange was actually ever a true friend.

jerrys109@yahoo.com 2010-10-17

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