665 - Die Vulcan-Diebe
The Volcano Thieves
H.G. Francis

A few years ago, in 3436, an unknown metal was discovered on the planet Gopstol-Maru. The metal, called Chmorl, after the name of its discoverer, could only be found in the vicinity of a volcano, where an ancient civilization had started its study. The Chmorl has the ability to increase the intelligence of people around it through a six dimensional radiation. A few years later, Antis built a university on the volcano in order to study the puzzling material.

The present.
Frank Eygt, the Anti in charge of the university, has been conducting genetic experiences with the Chmorl. He has been able to create a cybernetic clone, Chmorl-Pamo, who uses both positronics and Chmorl as his brain. So far, the humanoid has been asleep, though.

A fleet of sixty-four cargo ships is detected by the Antis, headed toward Gopstol-Maru. The commandant, a Cheboparnian called Faynybret, informs Eygt that Rhodan wants to transfer the whole volcano to a safe planet, where the Larens won't be able to find it. The Antis refuse and oppose resistance to the Terran fleet, using an energetic weapon they found in the ruins of the lost civilization.

When Faynybret is informed that the Larens haved learned about Gopstol-Maru and that they dispatched a fleet there, he intensifies the efforts and eventually convinces the Antis that they should work together. A fleet of Heavy spaceships enters the system, led by Poleicra. He has been asked by Leticron to take control of the volcano university.

Chmorl-Pamo has awakened and seems to be learning about his surroundings fast. He explored the lost city and came back with a glove made of Chmorl which seems to give him some kind of inner strength. Pieces of the volcano have started to be transfered by the Terran cargo-ships, protected by the Antis. However, SVE-ships enter the system and give assistance to the Heavies.

As the situation starts looking desperate, the Antis try to use the energetic weapon against the Laren ships. It's a success : the projectiles tear off the energetic shields of the Larens, leaving the SVE-ships without any protection. The volcano is successfully lifted off the surface of the planet and the Terran fleet heads toward its destination : in the middle of the Provcon-Faust dark cloud.

As they arrive there, they meet with Vincranians, who are supposed to lead them through the dense matter of the Cloud. However, they ask Chmorl-Pamo to leave because his presence affects their perception. The artificial being takes a shuttle and leaves. Then the fleet enters the Dark Cloud.

Cedric Beust

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