66 - Wächter der Verbannten
The Guardians
Kurt Mahr

Horatio Mullon and some companions, including Gunter Chellish, set up camp close to the hill where the non-human Blue Dwarfs live in order to make contact with them. Mullon tries to make them their allies in the fight against Hollander. Searching for Mullon and his companions, Hollander sends Pashen to the hill with some men and a rikki, a small monkey of Grautier capable of detecting hostile presences. Hollander doesn't wait long to follow, accompanied by a group of forty loyal members of the “Nature Philosophers”. Mullon and his people remain untraceable, hidden in the caves of the Blue Dwarfs. The Blue Dwarfs leave the hill and Hollander follows them, thinking that they will lead them toward Mullon. In fact Hollander and Pashen fall into a trap that Mullon set for them with the help of the Blue Dwarfs. Thanks to the paranormal faculties of the Blue Dwarfs, Hollander, Pashen and two of their men are taken prisoner in spite of the help of the rikki.

Mullon returns to Greenwich with his prisoners. Hollander’s partisans, learning of their chief's capture, abandon the control of the city. Hollander is condemned to death and then executed. The Nature Philosophers who had taken part in Hollander’s illegal takeover of the colony are condemned to two years of forced labor. Next Mullon, as president of the Council of Greenwich, calls for the establishment of diplomatic contacts with the Blue Dwarfs and the rikkis. All goes well for several weeks until the night of the 15th and 16th of January 2041 when the colony is attacked by aliens from the neighboring planet Myrtha XII. The aliens, called Whistlers (due to the sound of their strange language), bombard Greenwich and then make prisoner of all its inhabitants. Chellish, who is actually a Terran agent, makes contact with his superior, Captain Blayley, who is in a Gazelle hidden in the mountain. Captain Blayley refuses to intervene since the lives of the colonists are not yet in danger.

The aliens imprison the colonists close to their spaceship and search the city in order to confiscate all weapons. Mullon and Chellish are taken inside the spaceship where they learn that the Whistlers want to reduce them to slavery and force them to cultivate grain for the Whistler military back on Myrtha XII. They also learn that Pashen has allied himself to the aliens - it is he that provided the vocabulary allowing the Whistler translators to communicate utilizing the Terran language. The Whistlers then permit the colonists to live in semi-liberty, allowing them to return to their city. They provide them with fifteen agricultural machines and seed while giving them a precise production schedule and objective that they must meet in four months. The Whistlers subsequently leave Myrtha VII, leaving a camp of two hundred soldiers there close to Greenwich to supervise the colonists while waiting for the return of the spaceship. Pashen shows the colonists how to use the machines and makes himself the mediator with the Whistlers. Reluctantly, the colonists accept the unavoidable and begin work, while constructing some plans to pull themselves out of this bad situation.

Chellish, examining the machines placed at their disposal by the aliens, realize that they have an atomic reactor. He considers constructing a bomb with the help of material appropriated from the machines. On his end, Blayley indicates to Chellish that the Whistlers are from the planet Myrtha XII which has a very low atmospheric pressure. One evening, after the colonists have worked all day with the machines, Chellish disassembles the motor of one of them. The following day he finds an opportunity to apply pressure on Pashen by threatening that he will make the aliens believe that he has betrayed them. Thus, Chellish gets some very valuable information from Pashen concerning the Whistlers who have remained on Grautier. Of special note, he learns that the Whistlers are obliged to remain in pressurized tents and that they send a regular signal towards Myrtha XII to announce that all is going well. Mullon and Chellish formulate a plan to seize the camp of the aliens and make them prisoners.

Two days later, the colonists rise shortly before dawn and execute Mullon’s and Chellish’s plan, which by now has become quite elaborate. After having stunned a sentry, the colonists seize the weapons of the aliens that had been stocked in an arsenal tent. Due to the low air pressure issue, the aliens themselves take a certain amount of time before they can leave their pressurized tents and attack the colonists. As a result, the colonists have time to distribute the weapons among themselves and after a short battle all the aliens are taken prisoner. Taking over from the Whistlers, the colonists continue to regularly send the routine signal thereby giving themselves the whole time to construct the bomb from the agricultural machine’s atomic motor. Once constructed, the bomb is placed at the presumed landing place of the returning Whistler spaceship. Some months later, in April 2041, the bomb explodes, destroying the spaceship of the Whistlers just after its landing. Greenwich is not touched directly but the colonists prefer to construct New Greenwich at a sufficient distance, safe from the risks of radioactive fallout.

It is at this moment that Chellish chooses to announce to the colonists the presence of Captain Blayley and his Gazelle on Grautier. The presence of the Terran military on the planet is welcome news to the colonists and during a meeting between Blayley and Mullon, it is decided to establish a military base of the Solar Imperium on Grautier. At the same time Pashen is handed over to Terran justice.

Michael Mahoney 2011-09-06

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