727 - Spezialisten der Nacht
Specialists of the Night
H.G. Francis

In a distant past, the Zgmahkonians were living on Grojocko, their home planet. Since centuries, they knew that a black hole was headed their way and they are now on the verge of finally abandoning their planet. A group of twelve immortal scientists led by Olw called the Specialists of the Night believes that the black hole will not destroy the planet. Along with a fraction of the Zgmahkonian population, they decide to stay on the planet as it is finally engulfed by the black hole.

The planet emerges in an intermediate dimension, the Inter-Zone, which is connected through tunnels to eighteen other regions of space. All the spaceships who tried to escape Grojocko were destroyed by the black hole, and Olw is now in charge of the surviving Zgmahkonians. Before he can start organizing their survival, his team is attacked and paralyzed by a group of rebel Zgmahkonians led by Bassok, an officer worried by Olw's growing influence on the fate of the nation.

Olw is awakened by Bassok fifty years later. Grojocko has become a prosperous planet but it is not enough to satisfy Bassok's ambition. He now wants to expand his kingdom. He wants to use the tunnels to build a new stellar power, a Council. Since only the Specialists of the Night know how to maneuver through the tunnels, he needs them to explore the different regions of space the Inter-Zone is connected to and forge alliances to lay the foundations for his Council, by force if necessary. Olw refuses but Bassok threatens to kill the women on his team. Without them, none of the Specialists will be able to have kids since they can't breed with regular Zgmahkonians. Olw is forced to comply.

Olw leaves the Inter-Zone and on his arrival in one of the unknown galaxies the Zone is connected to, witnesses a fleet of spaceships dropping atomic bombs on a harmless world. He follows the aliens and lands on their planet. They call themselves Larens and their technology is no match for the Zgmahkonians. They reluctantly accept to be the first member of the Council.

Olw returns to Grojocko to report to Bassos. He realizes that other Specialists, including the women, were sent on similar missions. One of them has made contact with a race of jellyfish-like creatures called Hyptons. They have the power to hypnotize and subjugate people to accomplish their will.

When Olw returns on the Laren world, he is greeted by a powerful Laren fleet that tries to destroy them. He fights back and the Larens are severely defeated. They capitulate unconditionally and Olw establishes the first beachhead for the Council on their world. He comes back to Grojocko and Bassok tells him he intends to put the Specialists of the Night into an artificial sleep and awaken them whenever he needs them. Olw is forced to accept his fate, along with his companions.

Cedric Beust

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