726 - In der Dakkarzone
In the Dakkar Zone
William Voltz

The Sol emerges in an area of space called the Dakkar Zone. Soon, the whole crew wakes up and the scientists announce that the Dakkar Zone is connected through dimensional tunnels to eighteen other regions of space. It manifests itself to Rhodan and tells him that he is on his way to the second seal, but that he will have to make sacrifices to get there.

The Zone seems to be inhabited by only one race, and Rhodan decides to contact them. He hides the Sol in the outer rim of a sun and sends out Alaska, Pucky, Fellmer Lloyd and Icho Tolot. They are soon captured by the aliens and taken to one of their planets. They call themselves Zgmahkonians and they have fish-like features indicating aquatic origins.

The Zgmahkonians act in a hostile manner and they start questioning the Terrans. They block their thoughts as soon as Pucky tries to use his telepathic skills. However, the mouse-beaver had the time to grab some information, the most amazing one being that the Zgmahkonians seem to have a connection with the Council of the Seven.

Under the pressing interrogations, the Terrans decide to flee. They escape and hide in the outskirts of the main city. Pucky detects faint thoughts coming from a big monument in the middle of the city. The construction looks like a tomb and Pucky thinks that somebody of importance is being kept in an artificial sleep inside. He teleports there with Alaska while Lloyd and Tolot are captured by the Zgmahkonians.

The aliens want to know where the Sol is hidden and when they realize that conventional means are not working on the Terrans, they pretend that they are willing to negociate and allow Lloyd and Tolot to get back to their shuttle.

Meanwhile, Alaska and Pucky have been able to break into the tomb, using the strange powers of the Suit of Annihilation. Pucky finds engravings representing Larens on the wall, thus confirming his suspicion. More reading into the sleeper's thoughts reveals that there are eleven other sleepers, resting on different worlds in the Zone.

They finally discover the Zgmahkonian resting on a slab, surrounded by all sorts of instruments. Pucky decides to kidnap him. After a brief telepathic discussion with Lloyd, they teleport back on the shuttle and take the Zgmahkonians by surprise. Before the aliens realize what's happening, they escape through a hidden transmitter.

Back on the Sol, the sleeper wakes up. His name is Owl and he doesn't seem to be hostile toward the Terrans. He introduces himself as a Specialist of the Night and tells the Terrans that the Zgmahkonians are indeed the sixth people of the Hetos of the Seven. Asked by Rhodan, he starts telling the story of the Council of the Seven...

Cedric Beust

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