73 - Die drei Deserteure
Renegades Of The Future
Kurt Mahr

Myrtha VII (Grautier) becomes a strategic base for the Solar Imperium because it is projected that within a very short period of time a connection (rift) with the Druuf Universe will occur in this region of the space.

On October 3, 2042, Gunter Chellish, who has been placed in command of a Gazelle since the establishment of the solar military base on Grautier, is taken prisoner by three deserters, Oliver Roane, Walter Suttney and Ronson Lauers. These three belong to the original colonists of the planet, but they were also former followers of Hollander and his “Nature Philosophers”. They had remained at the military base on Grautier without any real incentive. Chellish, as pilot of the Gazelle, is forced by them to leave Grautier. They intend to contact the Arkonides in order to provide them with secret information regarding the position of the Earth. The Gazelle makes an emergency start and quickly disappears into hyperspace. As a result, Chellish is unable to give the alarm. When he learns the news, Perry Rhodan is very worried that the Arkonides could discover the position of the Earth.

The three deserters oblige Chellish to take the Gazelle close to a star situated twenty-five thousand light-years from Grautier. During this time Perry Rhodan initiates a vast operation which begins combing space to recover the Gazelle. Chellish perceives that the destination of Suttney and his partners is close to Latein-Oor, a star around which is located an Arkonide fleet. He guesses that his captors want to contact this Arkonide fleet in order to hand them the galactic coordinates of the Earth. Trying to win time, he provokes a breakdown in the Gazelle, making use of a moment when he is only supervised by Roane.

Roane warns his two accomplices that he suspects Chellish of causing this breakdown but they do not believe him. Wanting to take advantage of the disagreement between his three adversaries, Chellish tries to overpower them in a fight. But he looses and ends up being stunned. Upon awakening, Suttney obliges him to repair the damage to the Gazelle. He gets to work under the surveillance of Roane and, by a ruse, succeeds in inflicting a strong electric discharge on him. With Roane now unconscious, Chellish is able to put the anti-detection system of the Gazelle out of action.

During this time, the surveillance of space continues for the missing Gazelle, particularly by Mullon, the good friend of Chellish.

The Gazelle makes a second transition through hyperespace. Since, the anti-detection system is now disconnected, the Gazelle’s transition can be easily detected and it is Mullon who has the luck to discover it and to signal its position to the Terran squadron. The Gazelle emerges several parsecs from Latein-Oor where it is soon joined by the Terran fleet. Suttney, ignoring the presence of the solar ships, sends a hypercom call to the Arkonide ships. These arrive quickly, but, noting the presence of the solar fleet, remains waiting at a distance. Suttney decides to land on a nearby planet: Tantalum, a desert world. Once landed, Suttney sends a homing signal to the Arkonides, a signal that is also received by the Terran ships. On his part, Rhodan makes contact with the Arkonides and threatens to open fire on them if they approach Tantalum to help the deserters. Suttney decides by prudence to leave the Gazelle with his accomplices. He destroys the cockpit and wounds Chellish in the leg with a beamer hoping that Chellish will be killed by his friends if a Terran ship happens to discover the Gazelle on the planet’s surface. Suttney leaves the Gazelle with Lauer and Roane carrying with them a microfilm indicating the coordinates of the earth which they still plan on giving to the Arkonides.

Suspecting the presence of Terran ships attracted by the hypertransition signal produced by the defective anti-detection system, Chellish endeavors to leave the Gazelle as soon as possible. He follows the trail of the three deserters, very slowly because of his wounded leg. His departure is justified because shortly afterwards the Gazelle is detected and destroyed by a Terran ship. On the side of the deserters, this destruction does not pass unobserved and, as a result, they realize how close the Terran fleet really is. An altercation explodes between Lauer and Suttney regarding a disagreement on how to negotiate the coordinates of the Earth with the Arkonides. Lauer ends up knocking Suttney out. He then makes contact with Rhodan, threatening to provide the coordinates of the Earth to the Arkonides by radio if a new Gazelle is not immediately provided to him in order to escape from the planet. Lauer does not have the time to put his threat into action because, in the meantime, Chellish has been able to catch up with them. Getting ahead of Lauer and Roane, he succeeds in rolling a large boulder on top of a ridge down on them thereby forcing them to fall into a ravine. He seizes their microcom and uses it to send an SOS. Immediately the Terrans come to rescue him, to capture Roane and to note the death of Lauer during his fall into the ravine. It is now 15 October 2042.

Michael Mahoney 2012-08-23

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