2559 - Splitter des Bösen
Splinter of Evil
Marc A. Herren

The Intangible city (Korte Hanner refers to it as "Connajent, the Magnificent") attempts to travel on, but it does not succeed. Alaska Saedelaere now tries to reach the Time Headquarters and battles with the Jaranoc through the center of the city. The corrupting influence, which is palpable everywhere else, does not seem to have reached there yet. Alaska still does not trust Korte Hanner, despite his protests of loyalty, because the Jaranoc seems to be hiding some information. As Alaska is shot on the edge of a defensive ring that protected the center and runs because of his suddenly radiantly glowing Cappin fragment, as well as a failure of the SERUN caused by the Suit of Destruction, he is rescued by Korte Hanner. A cat-like creature who introduces herself as Ino Thalwaaruu accuses the Jaranoc as being responsible for the state of the city. The feline shows the two shows newcomers that the same heavenly conditions still rule in the city’s center, as Reginald Bull had encountered in Prymtuor. The feline claims that the Time Headquarters is not accessible.

Nevertheless, the Terran and the Jaranoc continue their march. They first reach a museum whose exhibits are all but destroyed. Alaska finds a star sapphire, but it is just a projection - just like Samburi Yura, who suddenly appears again. She repeats what Alaska needs to know about his mission. "The black hole that sings” is the goal. Korte Hanner helps Alaska pass through a seemingly solid portal. Behind it waits a psionic maze and the incarnation of evil - a kind of mental cancer that can dissolve reality around them. It whispers its name to Alaska. It is VATROX-VAMU. In a vision, Alaska experiences that VATROX-VAMU and the armies of Jaranoc had tried to conquer Connajent at one of the stations of the immaterial city. The city avoided this by traveling on, but when doing this, it carries along numerous Jaranocs as well as a splinter of VATROX-Vamu, which has been spreading ever since. Korte Hanner has to now contritely admit that VATROX-VAMU is his real master. He is the last surviving Jaranoc-warrior standing, but is not under the control of the splinter of evil.

Alaska and Korte Hanner reached the Time Headquarters with the help of the Suit of Destruction. There are two VATROX VAMU-controlled Proto-Enthone women there. In the tile mosaic, which is the steering mechanism of the city, lies a genuine star sapphire. As Alaska picks it up with the Suit of Destruction the Proto-Ethones begin to rave. When he finally manages to talk with them, Alaska learns that they had traveled here with Samburi Yura, in order to find and meet with the designer of the BOTNETZ, Sholoubwa. But he was already dead. Samburi Yura wanted to look elsewhere (presumably Kopter’s Aerie), for the BOTNETZ, so she left the two Proto-Ethones on Connajent to look for clues to the BOTNETZ. The star sapphire was to protect this part of Connajent from the splinter of evil and prevent the city from traveling on. Since Alaska had removed the gem, the city prepares to continue its journey and the now unstoppable splinter of evil begins to spread further. Finally, the Proto-Enthones tell Alaska of the " black hole that sings" and hand over a holo-projector that shows this black hole.

VATROX-VAMU’S splinter tries to conquer the heart of the city. Its influence begins to overrun the defense ring. Alaska destroys the tile mosaic, making the onward journey of the city impossible. Then he and the Jaranoc decide to try to reach the LUMINOSITY, where they will take back the Proto-Enthones. One of them suddenly attacks Alaska with a steel rod. His mask is broken and a concussion makes him delirious. He attacks Korte Hanner, because he has killed the attacking Proto-Enthone, but does not comprehend that it was only to save his life. Alaska takes the other injured Proto-Ethone back to the LUMINOSITY (the woman dies shortly afterwards), but he must return again, because he has lost the projector. Back in his right mind, he meets Korte Hanner again, who hands over the other dead Ethone and the projector, which he had recovered. The Jaranoc then takes his leave of Alaska - his debt to him is paid. He rushes off to battle approaching city citizens that have been driven insane by the splinter of evil and is presumably killed by them. Alaska returns to the LUMINOSITY and is convinced by the crew to order the destruction of the city, which is now entirely under the control of the evil and cannot be cured or evacuated. While the LUMINOSITY goes in search of the black hole that sings, Alaska brings the dead proto-Enthones to their comrades and places the Suit of Destruction back on the tree, along with the star sapphire. He suspects that the suit had driven him to his recent actions and is not happy about it.

Jerry Schneiderman 2012-05-16

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