657 - Der Arkturus-Zwischenfall
The Arcturus Incident
Kurt Mahr

As Rhodan, on board the Marco Polo, is about to rendezvous with the Doro, a smaller ship gathering all the team of scientists working for the resistance, he is the witness of an event yet unseen : a Laren ship, cruising by, is replenishing its energy tank. This is achieved by tapping some unknown energy force through a long tentacle-shaped ray of energy. The Marco Polo being still unnoticed, Rhodan decides to attack the Laren ship which, to their surprise, blows up under the Terran radiant shots.

Later, Rhodan faces Hotrenor-Taak who breaks furious when he hears that one of his ships was destroyed. He threatens Rhodan that if this happens again, the whole Milky Way will be mercilessly repressed. Rhodan doesn't back up and hints that the Larens will face the deadliest resistance should this ever happen. Hotrenor-Taak eventually calms down.

In the underwater base, Rhodan meets with Atlan and, to his surprise, with Roctin-Par, who secretly rallied the Earth. The rebel has realized that he won't be able to fight the Larens without help from the Terrans. He informs Rhodan that he has about a dozen secret bases throughout the Milky Way and invites the Administrator to come and visit them. The bases are hidden by dark clouds and thus, escape the standard Laren detection devices. The closest one is situated near Arcturus. Rhodan cannot leave Earth right now so Atlan decides to go with Roctin-Par.

The two men teleport on board the Empress of Arkon, an unconspicuous looking trade ship. However, the teleportation is detected by the Larens and immediately raises suspicion, as the detection reveals that it emanated from Imperium-Alpha. The Empress of Arkon takes off and heads for Arcturus. Hotrenor-Taak informs Rhodan about his suspicion and tells him that the Larens are able to track ships through linear space. Rhodan realizes that Atlan and Roctin-Par are in great danger.

Under the false pretext of hunting the Empress of Arkon, Rhodan takes off and heads for Arcturus, where he hopes he can warn Atlan in time. He arrives there shortly before the Arkonide and as soon as the Empress of Arkon emerges from linear space, the Marco Polo takes its control remotely. As both ships are heading toward the giant star to hide within its corona, a huge Laren ship materializes. It is more than 10,000 meter long and belongs neither to the Larens nor to the resistance. The ship observes the scene but doesn't intervene. It eventually shrinks down to a more normal size and disappears.

Meanwhile, a Laren ship has spotted the Empress of Arkon and starts chasing it. The Marco Polo, using the latest data collected by the scientists earlier, attacks it and manages to destroy it. The ship has barely the time to transmit a message but it can't identify the Marco Polo as the aggressor.

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