2540 - Unter dem Schleier
Under the Veil
Christian Montillon

Since the disappearance of Amethyst City and the launch of the Hyperdim-Perforator, eighty-eight thousand Jaranocs have been stuck on Cataract without any view of supplies and reinforcements. They cannot break the Paratron-bolting fields established by Stardust mankind and of surrender is not to be thought of. It is impossible for the Jaranocs to surrender to an enemy whom they have offended with a dishonorable slaughter. Certainly, they hope that VATROX-VAMU will eventually arrive, but the food supplies will only last for three more days. Desperate plans are discussed. Among other things Vuran Khitar suggests the killing of half of all the soldiers to make possible a longer survival for other half. Kardo Tarba, Khitar’s former pupil, has a better idea which he must realize, however without informing anyone else. As Icho Tolot, to whom the situation of the Jaranocs is known, appears at the energy dome to negotiates, Kardo Tarba faces him as the Jaranoc negotiator. He challenges the Haluter to a duel to the death. Should Kardo Tarba win, Stardust mankind must supply his people with food. Should he be defeated, the Jaranoc will surrender - which they could do in this case without losing face.

The duel takes place at the beginning of February 1463 NGE. Kardo Tarba counts on his death. He knows that he will save his people in any case (after all, Stardust mankind itself will not let its enemies simply starve), but wants to supply Tolot with a good battle. Therefore, he shifts himself into a battle trance. In this condition the Jaranoc can unfold weak Para-gifts. Now Kardo Tarba can affect matter. He makes the ground permeable, so that Tolot sinks underground. Then he strengthens the ground again, trapping the Haluter. But he overspends himself so much that he finally breaks down. The Haluter is able to free himself without a problem. However, he renounces killing his opponent. The laws of Kardo’s people require from the Jaranoc that he becomes the servant of his conqueror for the rest of his life. From now on Kardo Tarba will be Icho Tolot’s vassal.

Meanwhile Vorremar Corma asks Administrator Whistler for the use of one of the newly developed mutant detectors. According to his investigations strong Psi-forces have been found in the Stardust system during recent years with numerous people. Corma wants to prove that these are the people who have been touched by the gold shower of sparks, or have parents have who have been involved with this phenomenon. When Whistler does not agree immediately, the Siganese asks his old friend Huslik Valting, who was once touched by this phenomenon, for help. The man ‘borrows’ one of the devices from the Medo-clinic in which he is examined regularly for possible signs of explosive cell decay due to his exposure to the life extending effect of the golden shower of sparks. Then the two of them follow up another theory of Corma’s. The Siganese has found out that an explosion had occurred on the moon Crest - namely just at the moment when the Sextadim veil was activated. Because the Furtok Interstellar Company maintains a shipyard right near the explosion site, Corma believes that this firm is secretly researching theoretical and presumed ancient generators which produce the veil. The two get close to the shipyard and Corma penetrates into the restricted area of the explosion site. But nothing is to be seen of foreign technology, but only completely normal equipment - enormous piles for energy production (sun tapping machinery) and innumerable Paratron converters unambiguously of Stardust Terran construction. Corma is discovered by guards and shot unconscious...

Jerry Schneiderman 2011-09-22

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