51 - Jagd nach dem Leben
Life Hunt
Kurt Brand

May 2040. While a light cruiser brings Atlan back to Earth, Perry Rhodan remains on Hellgate to consult the memory banks of the positronic brain there. He looks for information on the Terran agents infiltrated onto the planet Tolimon in May 2039. Thora and Khrest have begun to age and he is especially interested by rumors of beings who have successfully challenged old age and are supposedly living on this planet, where a gigantic zoo exists under the control of the Aras.

The agents infiltrated on Tolimon are two mutants: John Marshall and Laury Marten. Marshall has taken the identity of a Springer, Ixt, owner of an animal shop, and Laury the identity of Silm Arga, an Arkonide student. An Ara, Huxul, comes to buy some birds from Marshall, but Marshall reads in his thoughts that he wants in fact to bring back the cage the following day, equipped with a device that will make a recording of his brain waves. The Aras have found inaccuracies in their file on Ixt. Marshall is in the process of going to see the Springer ship captain, Rohun, who works for him. Thus, when Huxul presents himself, Marshall takes him under control with his psycho-radiator and forces him to leave.

Meanwhile, Arga Silm is sent by the Galactic Physician Gaige Moge to look for binns, weakly intelligent beings, at the zoo.

While arriving at the zoo, Laury Marten takes under her charm the Ara, Lo Pirr, and they head together toward the place where the binns are located. There, they meet another Ara, Man Regg, who is in charge of the production of the long life serum. Drawing in her thoughts, Laury impresses him while showing the same areas of interest as him. She gets assigned to his team, in the X-p station.

John Marshall reaches a secret apartment that he occupies in the poorer districts of the city and sends a message by hypercom.

While presenting herself to Man Regg in the X-p station, Laury Marten fails to betray herself while making allusion to secret experiences. She is then interrogated by several Aras but she manages it well and is assigned to the "Geomorphism" section.

John Marshall follows Otznam, a Springer in the service of Rohun who must pass himself off as Ixt during the forthcoming visit of the Ara Huxul. Huxul brings back a cage with the birds bought the day before and carries out the recording of the mental prints of the “false” Ixt. Marshall manipulates him with a psycho-radiator so that he takes in fact his own recordings and provides a tampered (falsified) report where all appears OK. The mutant then wants to see Rohun but the Springer’s vessel has already taken off. Laury warns Marshall mentally that Man Regg is beginning to have some suspicions. Marshall then meets Egmon, one of Rohun’s men, who informs him that the Springer captain left because the Aras appear more and more suspicious of him.

Ixt/Marshall buys some rare animals in order to bait the Aras who are always in search of new species. The animals are purchased by Kolex, an old Ara who feels friendship for Ixt although he reveals to him that the security services are interested in him. Marshall meets Tullin and Egmon in a house of pleasures. They stole a report proving that Marshall is not the real Ixt. The mutant and Springers escape the security services that subsequently invade the house.

In the zoo, Laury Marten discovers a Terran farm of Nordic type. Then she discovers a zone recalling Mexico. There, she meets Rodrigo of Berceo, an Earthman abducted from Mexico back in the seventeenth century.

John Marshall informs Kolex, he wants to enter into communication with physicians working on the survival serum.

In the zoo, Laury meets several other Earthman who have been present there for many centuries. She falls in love with Rodrigo. Surprised by a Frogh, one of the guardian creatures of the zoo, she coaxes it while providing it the stimulating pills that drive it into a state of drunkenness (intoxication).

John Marshall calls Rohun so that he brings back his ship.

In the zoo, Rodrigo informs Laury that the Aras want to come to look for him the next day. In the station, Laury betrays herself to the Ara Azza while speaking of a migraine, an unknown illness of the Arkonides and their descendants. She succeeds, however, in ridding herself of him while informing Man Regg by intercom that Azza ransacked her office.

Laury Marten finally finds a vile of the sought-after serum. She must run away from robots after having taken the director of the zoo as hostage. She goes looking for Rodrigo who she finds and frees. She is rejoined soon by Marshall aboard her corvette. They are attacked and the vessel is destroyed. They flee on foot. Marshall activates his hypercom mentally thanks to an psi-amplifier and alerts Rohun who comes to look for them with a shuttle craft. The three Terrans leave it one kilometer from the spaceport, steal a glider and regain the city. Marshall wants to reach his store but the district swarms with Aras. He triggers an incendiary bomb to erase all traces in his store.

He reaches his apartment in the poor district and alerts Rhodan who announces he is coming himself.

Michael Mahoney 2014-03-27

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