- Das Spiel des Laren
The Game of the Larens
Worried about the growing influence of the Vhrato myth in the Milky Way, Hotrenor-Taak decides to use it to his advantage. He creates a replica of the Marco Polo, Rhodan's flagship. A man looking like Rhodan is chosen to impersonate him. Hotrenor-Taak sends the fake Marco Polo on the planet where the Vhrato Cult is the strongest: Tomallkeyn.
When the spaceship lands on Tomallkeyn, its inhabitants are subjugated and they immediately celebrate the return of Rhodan. The impostor explains that after the Earth was hurled through the solar transmitter, it emerged in a deserted area of space. It took the Marco Polo over a hundred years to come back into the Milky Way, and Rhodan had to leave Bully, Pucky and the rest of his officers on the Earth.
However, not everyone shares the enthusiasm of the population: two USO agents on Tomallkeyn suspect that something is wrong and they decide to secretly visit the Marco Polo. It's after they inspect the engines that they realize that the Marco Polo is indeed a fake, and they barely escape before the Larens can catch them.
They report their findings to Atlan, who is not surprised since he already knows that Rhodan is still on his way from the distant Maelstrom of the Stars, on board the Sol, and not the Marco Polo.
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