49 - Die Erde stirbt
The Earth Dies
Clark Darlton

A fleet of the Mounders attacks the Betelgeuse System. The CENTURIAN and the TERRA detect a large number of transitions corresponding to the arrival of the Springer fleet. The TITAN with Perry Rhodan on board is also present in the Betelgeuse System. On his side, the Topide Commander, Al-Khor, fortifies the third planet, thinking that the Springers will first attack the fourth planet, Akvo (Aqua). The Terran vessels attack the hostile Mounder ships making it appear as if the Earth is mounting a massive defense. At the same time, Al-Khor asks the Autocrat (the dictator of Topide) for help. The Autocrat promises to send only two ships but lets Al-Khor know he still expects a Topide victory.

At the time of his arrival in the Betelgeuse System, the Mounder Topthor immediately realizes that it is not the Sol System despite the presence of Perry Rhodanís flagship, the TITAN. In turn, the Topides are surprised that the Mounders attack the third planet and not the fourth. Suspicion begins to grow among some of the Mounders and Topides that something is not quite right. The MV-13, a Topide cruiser, is hit by the TOP-II, Topthorís flagship, and crashes on Akvo. It in turn opens fire on the TOP-II that breaks in two and crashes on Akvo. Topthor makes contact with Ber-Ka, the Topide commander of the MV-13, and, as a result, he begins to more clearly understand the trick that Rhodan has played on them all. Ber-Ka and Topthor leave together with a caterpillar vehicle for the Control Central of the Topides on Akvo.

The Topide reinforcements arrive but they are defeated and destroyed by the Mounders.

Ber-Ka and Topthor reach the Control Central but they argue over who will use the hypercom first. Topthor kills Ber-Ka and succeeds in contacting Cekztel, the oldest Mounder patriarch and, thus, the Commander-in-Chief of all Mounder ships in the Betelgeuse System. However, Pucky intervenes in time. He interrupts the connection between Topthor and Cekztel before any important information can be divulged to Cekztel; then he kills Topthor and puts the hypercom out of order.

On the third planet, Al-Khor unleashes the full power of the planetary defenses at his command and destroys half of Cekztelís fleet. In turn, Cekztel sends the patriarch Bernda in search of Topthor. Finally, Cekztel ends up releasing an Arkon bomb on the third planet of the Betelgeuse System, which is ultimately destroyed. Believing he has finally destroyed the Earth, Cekztel prepares to depart the Betelgeuse System with his fleet.

The CENTURION overflies Akvo and drops a bomb on the Topides and Mounders who have banded together. Bernda and Gatzek, Topthorís second in command, have already left in search of Topthor. Bernda moves away, interested by some plants. Ras Tschubai teleports himself with Deringhouse into the Topide Control Central and discover the corpses of Topthor and Ber-Ka.

Upon their return on the CENTURION, Tschubai and Deringhouses meet Pucky who has no remorse on having killed Topthor. Pucky then returns to the TITAN.

Perry Rhodan follows Cekztelís fleet. The TITAN materializes with turned off structure compensators amid the Mounder formation. After Pucky teleports outside the ship with an atomic bomb, Rhodan puts down an emergency radio message, which he purposely ensures the Mounders will be able to intercept. He tells about the destruction of the Earth and his intent to flee with a defective structure compensator. During the radio message, he gives Pucky the order to ignite the bomb and breaks off the emergency radio message during the statement regarding the jump coordinates. As a result, the Mounders are tricked into believing they see a ship which, during the initiation of a transition, is torn apart by an explosion due to the defective structure compensators. Cekztel and the Mounders are convinced that Perry Rhodan himself has finally been defeated and killed.

Through the faked annihilation of the Earth and the TITAN, the Terrans now have time to strengthen their empire undisturbed. Perry Rhodan has succeeded in securing a peace for the Earth that will last for several decades to come.

Michael Mahoney 2015-10-02

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