48 - Rotes Auge Beteigeuze
Red Eye Of Betelgeuse
Clark Darlton

After a six month absence, Perry Rhodan returns to the earth with the TITAN and briefly reports on television about his expedition to Arkon. He describes how it looks in the Great Imperium and how he came into possession of the TITAN. He also reports about the Robot Regent and the threat it represents to the Earth. The Robot Regent doesn't yet know where it can find the Earth, but it will continue to look for it and, probably, someday find it.

Perry Rhodan describes a plan that he wants to implement which will convince both the Robot Regent and the Springers that they have destroyed the Earth. However, in reality they would destroy the third planet of the giant sun Betelgeuse. Consequently, the Terrans would have years and possibly even decades in order to build up the defenses of the Earth. However, Rhodan's plan requires that the Springers don't get so close to the third planet of Betelgeuse before launching their Arkon bombs that they see through the bluff due to the undeveloped nature of the planet.

Rhodan wants two of his ships, the CENTURION and the TERRA, to set off for Betelgeuse, but he does not want them to take Pucky. Thus, the mouse-beaver sneaks on board of the CENTURION, commanded by Major Deringhouse. This ship, along with the TERRA, commanded by Major McClears, flies to the Betelgeuse System in order to feign the defense of the Earth against the Springers.

The CENTURION overflies the fourth planet of the Betelgeuse System. John Marshall names the planet "Akvo (Aqua)" because ninety percent of its surface is covered with water. While orbiting the planet, the Terrans detect round, metallic buildings that stand in the water only a short distance from the shore of one of the planet's continents. Shortly afterwards, the CENTURION is grasped by a tractor ray which pulls it down to the surface of the planet. Pucky recognizes the base personnel's brain wave patterns as Topides.

The Terrans take advantage of the situation and deceive the Topides by stating they are Springers who stole a ship of the Arkonides. After a short talk with the commander of the Topides, Al-Khor, Deringhouse and Marshall are taken to a cell. A gazelle from the TERRA with Major McClears and Lieutenant Tifflor aboard also approaches Akvo and is forced to land. Stopped by the Topides, they speak of the forthcoming invasion of the system by their clan which suspects the presence of a deadly enemy in the system. They are then locked up on an artificial island in an underwater room with transparent walls and floor.

Al-Khor interrogates Deringhouse and Marshall. He accuses them of not warning him about the forthcoming Springer invasion. After his departure, Pucky joins Marshall and Deringhouse and gives them weapons, to include a psycho-radiator. They escape and destroy the dome where they were locked up. Pucky has some fun and makes several of the Topides do acrobatics thru his telekinetic abilities. The Terrans reach the coast and make contact with the natives who resemble giant seals. They manage to conclude an alliance against the Topides.

The CENTURION takes off after having opened fire on the Topide facilities and joins the TERRA in orbit.

Al-Khor sends a message placing the entire Betelgeuse System in a state of alert. Wor-Lok, the commander-in-chief of Topide forces in the system, decides to repulse the expected Springer invasion without waiting for reinforcements. Al-Khor opposes Wor-Lok and his plan.

The Topides want to execute McClears and Tifflor and take them to an underwater lock to be drowned. Pucky intervenes, frees the prisoners and floods the artificial island base. On the Earth, Perry Rhodan is informed of the situation. He decides to play the Topides against the Springers. He orders Deringhouse to fly to the third planet.

The final result of all the above events: the Terrans have made the Topides, without their knowledge, into alleged war allies who will defend the false "earth" in the Betelgeuse System against the Springer aggressors.

Michael Mahoney 2015-09-30

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