2539 - Schreine der Ewigkeit
Shrines of Eternity
Marc A. Herren

Syrst Tykvenst Lokop already had a particular lack of talent as a youngster. That has not changed till the current day, but he struggles through life with impersonations and confidence games. Svage Kittel Lokop, who has grown up with Syrst, is far different. Today Svage is a respectable professor. They meet again at a symposium about the philosophy of the Ur-Lokopters, where Svage unmasks the trickster. However, before it comes to an altercation, two Blue Feather officials appear and declare that Svage, as well as Syrst, belong to the three hundred forty-three Chosen who will determine the last seven that will begin the next one hundred year cycle as the new guards of the Forty-eight Petals of the Time Rose.

Ennerhahl's statement that he is an Incarnation of the BOTNETZ, no matter whether true or lie, distracts the shrine guard Sikkel Snisedne Ghern and allows the companion of Alaska Saedelaere to activates a time-lapse field. They can thus escape from the guard and robots and leave the Shrine of Eternity, the light tower and Lokop's Nest. Near the gone out time well Ennerhahl turns out to have knowledge, which the mask bearer begins to pull out of him by feigning knowledge of his own. According to Ennerhahl, the BOTNETZ is a weapon of a longest disappeared superintelligence, who once created the Forty-Eight Petals of the Time Rose in the fight against the powers of Chaos.

Meanwhile, their nest members escort the Chosen in a joyful procession to the local light tower. Only in case of Syrst is there nobody and he tries to disappear, in order to escape the destiny of having his pick being revealed a mistake. He wants to make a new beginning in another great nest. However, before he can start, there stands Keffira SŲtest Lokop, an artist whom also nobody can simply wave off. She babbles and cackles to herself and pulls Syrst along with her persistence.

When pursuers still appear, Ennerhahl once again withdraws by making himself invisible. Saedelaere returns to the ROTOR-G where the three androids Eroin Blitzer, N'tur Lind and Fallun Vierauf are continuing their work. The cell activator bearer sends for the ILLUMINATING POWER to come to Kopterís Aerie, because he knows the shipís computer DAN has greater and more varied investigative possibilities than the sloop.

In a Holo-room Blitzer shows Saedelaere what is happening inside the light tower of Lokopís Nest (and at the same time in the other forty-seven nests). It seems, as if the Shrines of Eternity are being lifted up the light towers. Everything seems to be following a certain protocol. Saedelaere recognizes an arena in which three hundred thousand Lokopters enthusiastically. The Chosen perform a dance, which goes along with a chant. However, of interest above all else is the remarkable misty fog that exudes from the feet of the Chosen. But this does not happen as impressively with some of the Chosen.

What Syrst and all the other Chosen Lokopters dance is called the Kish'Ah. And in addition they speak traditional Kor'kish, which tells the history of the mighty guards and their honorable job of protecting and preserving the Petals of the Time Rose. Each of the Chosen carries the Kish-tar-Ak lance, whose crystal tip starts to shine, the longer the dance lasts. Only when then the fog of the evaporations, called Kish, lifts, does Syrst understand what has happened. In the arena now stand only forty-nine Chosen, while the remaining ones have risen into the lances. The forty-nine should now be feeling filled with new forces, but Syrst feels nothing of that and senses something is going wrong with the ceremony.

The events are at first also unfathomable for the mask bearer. However, the three androids analyze the crystal tips of the lances and discover them to be 5-dimensional emitters with a 6-dimensional resonance touch. They are Howalgonium-Sextagonium hybrid crystals, better known as PEW metal. And as it is known, consciousnesses can be stored in them. This is undoubtedly true for the two hundred ninety-four disappeared Lokopters Ė but maybe it also applies to Mistress Samburi Yura?

In the arena the Kish'Ah begins once more and Syrst tried to rise into the fog, for he wants to be with Keffira, who he had come to have feelings for. But he is not destined for that and the last person in his group to rise in his Kish-tar-Ak is Svage. When the dance is over, Syrst is one of the last seven Chosen. And he knows that something is going on completely different from how it should. At this point, actually, the Seven Mighty from the last cycle should be coming down into the Shrine and hand over their power, both figuratively and literally. But no such thing happens Ė and in addition the Kish-tar-Aks empty themselves, as the consciousnesses in them slowly evaporate.

Saedelaere also recognizes that something is wrong in the area. Then he sees Ennerhahl in the crowd, entering the opening of the station in orbit, which the Shrine has raised itself to dock with. The mask bearer switches into the station using an UHF window. He immediately discovers that the BOTNETZ used to be there, but is now gone. He also discovers a broach on the floor of the station that belongs to Mistress Samburiís dress. All of a sudden Ennerhahl appears and begins to walk towards him in anger, as if it should come to a duel between them. He also notices the broach and picks it up. He examines it, but quickly drops it again as nothing of interest to him. Then, instead of coming to Alaska, the black skinned man withdraws back into the Lokopter arena. Saedelaere picks up the broach, which suddenly lights up and plays a message from Mistress Samburi. It turns out that the Enthone had come too late and QIN SHI has taken the BOTNETZ and her away. He, Saedelaere, should follow the track of her star jewels and find her, before it is too late.

Returning to the ILLUMINATING POWER, Saedelaere recognizes that all forty-eight shrines have lost power and threaten to fall. This would be the end of more than fourteen million Lokopters, which the cell activator bearer does not want to allow. He makes the androids intervene to save the Lokopters, which contradicts the philosophical stand for the use of the Cosmocrat ship. But finally, he convinces Blitzer, Lind and Vierauf to obey him, by saying the stations may hold more clues to where their Mistress is located. The Lokopters are saved and returned to their cities with their shrines, while the forty-eight stations are taken elsewhere on Kopterís Aerie. The investigation of them reveals nothing of use.

The available information indicates that QIN SHI is a Chaos power. However, the status of Ennerhahl cannot be unambiguously determined. DAN finally pulls a sequence of coordinates from the broach Alaska had found. The ILLUMINATING POWER launches approach the coordinates. Strangely enough, the DAN knows the coordinates, but not what is to be found there.

Meanwhile Syrst comes to find new confidence in himself. He buries his lance tip outside the city of Lokoterís Nest and his time with Keffira with it. He also believes to see a figure that disappears into a black hole in the ground, leaving only a piece of muddy colored, cracked ground...

Jerry Schneiderman 2011-09-08

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