653 - Der Terraner und der Rebell
The Terran and the Rebel
Hans Kneifel

Siete-Torr, a Laren rebel living on the planet Hoptrec-Haich, is running for his life. He has just overheard a conversation between two Laren officers disclosing information about the resistance movement that might endanger the whole organization.

On the SVE-ship where he has supposedly been kidnapped, Rhodan gives Roctin-Par an overview of his plan. He wants Atlan to be nominated in his place by the Larens as First Hetran of the Milky Way. Meanwhile, they will prepare their counter-offensive in NGC-3190. Their destination is Ercre-An-Thek, a system made of seven planets. The third planet -- Hoptrec-Haich -- is under Laren control but the resistance is very strong there.

Just as they approach the planet, Roctin-Par receives a communication from one of his agents who tells him that the Larens are setting up a planet-wide trap to capture him. First terrified by the news, Roctin-Par is eventually calmed by Rhodan who decides to use this information to his advantage. They will pretend they ignore everything about this trap and Rhodan will escape from the Rebels.

Using the onboard transmitter, Rhodan, Tolot and Roctin-Par teleport themselves several thousands meters under the surface of the planet, under the main city, Ervto-Thur'Han. The second group, made of Kosum, Lord Zwiebus and Alaska Saedelaere reappears in an old mine. Using the directions given to them by Roctin-Par, they find their way through the maze and eventually find the elevator. As they are about to enter it, an alarm sounds and several explosions cause the tunnels to collapse, blocking their way. A group of soldiers appears and surrounds them.

Rottan-Ctass, the commandant of the Laren fort in Hoptrec-Haich, waits for the rebel ship to land. The Larens detected the impulses from the transmitter on the ship, despite the efforts of its crew to hide them. However, they don't know where the other transmitters are, although they suspect they must be under the surface of the planet.

In the mine, Rhodan and Tolot try to find their way upward. They eventually meet with Gucky, who has been exploring the surroundings. The group led by Kosum and Zwiebus is now in a safe place, waiting for them. Rhodan eventually reaches the main control of the nuclear power plant that the rebels used as a hideout and also supplies power for the nearby Laren fort. He turns off the plant and destroys the console. Then they resume their ascent and eventually reach the surface.

The little group, now gathered again, then heads toward the Laren fortress. Rhodan calls them and pretends they just escaped from the rebels and they need assistance. Behind them, the rebels are closing in, and since they are not aware of the plan made by Rhodan and Roctin-Par, they open fire on the Terrans. Just as the gliders are about to catch up with them, Rottan-Ctass eventually answers. The Terrans safely make it into the fortress but shortly after, the rebels attack and thanks to the subterranean work performed by Rhodan and Tolot, they successfully break into the fort.

Rhodan escapes the battle and observes it from far away. The rebels first have the edge, but soon, Laren supports led by Hotrenor-Taak join the fray and defeat them. Rhodan reports to Hotrenor-Taak, who congratulates him for behaving as a true First Hetran of the Milky Way. Hotrenor-Taak announces that they are now headed back to the Milky Way, where his nomination as First Hetran will be appropriately celebrated. However, Rhodan learns that the Council has already started to set foot in his home galaxy by sending there one hundred thousand SVE-ships.

Skirmishes have taken place between the fleets of the Hetos and the Arkonids, the Akonids and the Springers. Given the superior technology of the Laren, the outcome of the battles leaves little room for hope. Worse of all, the rumor has it in the Milky Way that it's Rhodan himself who is leading the attack.

On Earth, Atlan and Bull are busy organizing the evacuation. Ships and personnel are being taken away and scattered to several planets, as planned, and unnoticed from the Hetos Inspectors, who have now ceased to be spies and are coming out in broad daylight.

On March 3, 3459, an official ceremony makes Rhodan the First Hetran of the Milky Way.

Cedric Beust

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