301 - Die Plattform des Schreckens
The Platform of Horror
William Voltz

Another platform has materialized near Ruby. Don Redhorse decides to land on one of the platforms in order to gather more information. When they land, they are greeted by robots who call them "Great Friends". The robots are friendly and ask the Terrans to follow them. Inside, the Terrans realize how similar to Terran technology the base is. They are left in a room. While they wait, they hear human screams but cannot identify where they come from.

After a few hours, more robots come to get them but these are hostile. They open fire on the Terrans with narco-radiants. Only Zachery Parral and a robot escape, the other Terrans are captured. When they wake up, they meet with the owners of the robots that attacked them : they are caterpillar-like creatures who speak a perfect intergalact. They seem to fear that the Terrans are here to chase them from the platform. The Terrans call them "Walkers".

The two platforms leave the system and head for what the Walkers refer to as "The Center". After a short trip, the two platforms dock to a gigantic space station. The Terrans count a total of twelve platforms, each of them carrying about nine-hundred galaxy class cruisers.

The coordinator of the platform is struggling with a dilemma : it cannot determine if it should consider the fifteen Terrans as friends or foes. Urged to make a decision, it decides to have them killed.

The Walkers tell the Terrans that they've been on platforms three and four for centuries. However, they cannot settle on the other platforms, but they won't explain why. Redhorse convinces them to let them go. The Walkers reluctantly comply. As the Terrans are making their way toward an escape shuttle, they are attacked by robots sent by the coordinator. They don't understand why these are now turning against them. They manage to escape and head back to Ruby, where they report to Rhodan.

Cedric Beust

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