61 - Der Robot-Spion
Clark Darlton

While Rhodan converses with Atlan after his narration on Atlantis, an urgent call is received by Terrania. Jost Kulman, a member of the Mutant Corps involved in a mission on the planet Swoofon, sends out the signal "The bell sounded three times", synonymous with a serious danger for the Earth. The DRUSUS immediately sets out for this planet whose inhabitants, the Swoons, are specialists in micro-technology.

A Gazelle lands on the surface to recover Kulman. However, he states that he has not sent out any message. He is brought aboard the flagship along with his pet, Muzzel, a possonkal whose shape resembles a basset hound. Kulman is placed in the hands of mutants who don't find anything abnormal with him. Some unusual signals are then intercepted - they are identified as signals from a beacon and one suspects the presence of a spy aboard. The return to Earth is delayed. Pucky fraternizes with Muzzel, although he finds it strange that its thoughts always revolve around the aquatic element. When he questions the positronic brain, Atlan is paralyzed by an unknown assailant.

The DRUSUS heads toward the center of the galaxy. Several balls of 0.2 millimeters of diameter are discovered, each containing a miniaturized hypercom. A more detailed analysis of Jost Kulman reveals that a mental block is locking out a part of his memory. Even the hypno Andre Noir doesn't succeed in removing this block. Atlan suspects Muzzel but an analysis of its blood doesn't reveal anything abnormal.

Heaps of litter are discovered in ventilation ducts, composed of raw meat and carrots, all of which was dissolved by a fermentation process of non-terran origin. When he passes by the positronic archives, Rhodan discovers that they were utilized. The secret coordinates of the Earth have been read.

To trap the spy, one announces that the DRUSUS is returning to the Earth whereas, in reality, it heads toward the center of the Galaxy. The spy is finally unmasked and is killed - it was indeed Muzzel. Its body was that of a possonkal but a small capsule in its head directed its movements. Its thoughts came from the brain of an aquatic animal transplanted inside. Jost Kulman recovers his memory at the instant of Muzzel’s death.

Michael P. Mahoney 2009-01-22

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