- Die Planetenbrücke
The Planet Bridge
The EX-33 BOMBAY ventures into the one hundred forty-three light year wide space bubble of the anomaly, in which the Sol system has been sent. Its goal is the Next Stop system, only seventeen light years from Sol. The flight has great difficulties due to the raging hyperphysical disturbances in the space bubble. The deputy commander Jenke Schousboe , a Irmdomer , loses two of the four SCARAB launches sent out to do reconnaissance, but at least it is determined that space itself somehow appears to "thicken" when you use too much energy as thrust.
Arrived in the white sun system of Next Stop, the crew of the BOMBAY is offered a fascinating picture. Two identically sized planets, each with elven thousand two hundred eleven kilometers of diameter – one an oxygen world and the other a poisonous gas planet - orbit the sun on a common orbit, and they are connected by a one thousand kilometer wide tube. The tube has a length of exactly twenty times the planets’ diameter. A gigantic city covers portions of the tube, and is apparently covered by a still unknown disturbing influence, because as the BOMBAY makes its approach, the ship's systems begin to fail. Therefore Schousboe lands on the oxygen world with the SCARAB VAHANA. Also on board is the cultural diagnostician Zachary Cranstoun. His twin brother Aiden began a relationship with the Irmdomer without her knowing that the twins are connected to each other with such a strong telepathic bond that one always experiences exactly what the other experiences.
The VAHANA ends up in an interference field and makes an emergency landing. It comes to peaceful contact with the friendly inhabitants of the planet, the Favadarei, who call their planet Faland. The Favadarei are more or less humanoid, taller than Terrans and have a very lean, flexible physique. Their heads are relatively small and bulbous. They have no face, but sensory prongs and a speech membrane. The Favadarei are gifted inventors, and they have all striven for a long time towards a common goal. They want to reach the planet bridge (the Shathrona), for which a special vehicle called FATROCHUN must be built. As their level of technology only includes the use of steam power, this goal is still far off. But Shimco Patoshin, one of the most gifted inventors of his time and a member of the committee that welcomes the Galactics, quickly recognizes that the stranger might be able to help the Favadarei in achieving their goal.
The VAHANA is repaired as best possible, so that it can be used for an expedition to the north continent Povgheuc. The closer the expedition approaches the Shathrona the more high-end devices fail - initially the SCARAB, then the SERUNS. During the subsequent forced march Zachary Cranstoun is killed by a predator. Aiden, still aboard the BOMBAY, suffers a shock from it. The expedition is canceled. Following an ancient tradition of the Favadarei, Zachary's brain is interred in the Continual Segment of the Amgheuc necropolis. The wormlike Gheucen preserve the brains of all the deceased Favadarei there from decay. Shortly after the funeral, Aiden is possessed by the consciousness of his brother. The Favadarei brains are still alive and they have joined together. Zachary's brain is welcomed into this collective and transmits his brother all the knowledge of the ancestors. This includes information that will enable the Galactics to rebuild the VAHANA into a FATROCHUN. A network of nodes of special hypercrystals is a part of this, which secures the SCARAB from the disturbing influence emanating from the Shathrona.
Before the VAHANA launches, Zachary sends his friends instructions on how to get past the gatekeeper of the Shathrona, and warns of the Omnipresent Rearguard, whatever that is. Then his spirit finally merges back into the collective consciousness of the dead. Shimco is allowed to give the command to start the FATROCHUN...
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