76 - Unter den Sternen von Druufon
Under The Stars Of Druufon
Clark Darlton

Locations: Druufon (Siamed System) and briefly Hades (Siamed System), Gray Beast (Myrtha System) and Tatlira IV.

Marcus Everson, colonel of the Solar Imperium, is sent by Perry Rhodan to the Tatlira system for an old friend – Harno, an Energy Being in the form of a sentient globe – to ask for help. Harno’s ability, which can project images of distant events on its surface – is seen as very valuable in the planned expedition to the red universe of the Druufs. Harno agrees and they return to the Myrtha system, waiting for Perry Rhodan and much of the solar fleet. Only 22 light years away from Myrtha is the overlapping zone between the standard universe and the red universe of the Druufs. Fierce battles are being waged between Druuf spaceships and the robotic fleet of the Robot Regent of Arkon. At the overlap zone, the Terrans are mere active observers.

The DRUSUS, the KUBLAI KHAN and the CALIFORNIA transition jump to the overlapping front and enter into the fight in favor of a Druuf ship, which is hard pressed by Arkon vessels. By this mock display, Rhodan wants to fake a false alliance with the Druufs.

The three Terran ships penetrate into the red universe, already in Siamed, the home system of the Druufs, to the main world Druufon. On another planet, Hades, there is already an underground Terran secret base. Immediately they begin to supply the base with material by means of a matter transmitter. The Terrans make radio contact with the Druufs which agree to escort them for landing on Druufon.

Meanwhile, a stranger makes telepathic contact with them. It is the same being that acted earlier as an important helper during the first incursion with the CALIFORNIA. Harno and Gucky prove to be especially useful in this contact is. According to Gucky the unknown helper is the chief physicist at the Druuf, Onot, who, at the same time is confused about his own identity. He knows Perry Rhodan however, but he cannot recall where from.

After landing at Druufon, one Druuf leader comes on board of the DRUSUS and begin negotiations. Using telepathy, the Terrans quickly discover that the Druufs also want to deceive them with a false alliance against Arkon. After an eventual victory over Arkon, they would lead a war against Terra. On the Terran proposal to exchange knowledge about the standard universe for freedom of movement in the Siamed system, the Druuf, counter offers by mockingly pulling back for an internal meeting of the ruling Council of the Sixty-Six. The real and immediate goal of the Druufs is to reach an alliance with Terra against Arkon, without having to make concessions.

Meanwhile, Rhodan gives Gucky and Harno the order to find the unknown helper. After some difficulties, it also succeeds. It turns out that the alien being actually exists only in spirit form and is manifested in the body of a Druuf scientist, whilst not permanently displacing his spirit. The enormous knowledge of the Druuf is due to the alien spirit.

The council of the Druufs is now completed, they will pretend to accept the Terran offer. The actual contract will go ahead as planned before the Supreme Druuf. This aims to entice Rhodan, then take him prisoner. Their intention is to then put pressure on the Terrans. Rhodan, telepathically informed, enters the council arena. He intends to escape with Gucky’s and Harno’s help. His hope is to be able to contact again the unknown person, who seemingly knows him.

Before the Council of the sixty-six, Rhodan is put under pressure. They want to squeeze Terran weapons technology out of him. Rhodan can feel behind this urgency that something critical must have happened. At that moment, the stranger makes telepathic contact with him and informs that a very large number of Arkonid spaceships has penetrated through the gap to the overlap zone in the red universe. In about an hour, they would be able to reach Druufon. He recommends a quick escape. Rhodan expresses his desire to save Onot too. The unknown friend believes that now it is not possible, but hopes to return to Rhodan later. At that moment, the contact is terminated, the real Onot has regained control over his body. The Druuf Council quickly dropped all pretenses of friendship and proceeds to chain Rhodan. But Gucky teleported him to safety from under the noses of Druuf thugs.

The Robot Regent also starts attacking with many thousands of ships into the Siamed system. Arkon's offensive battle fleet had evidently surprised the Druufs and sent them panicking. Rhodan and some other friends are transferred to the transmitter secret base in Hades. There Rhodan decided, with the recalled CALIFORNIA to risk a new advance to Druufon to save Onot, and his stranger mental companion. He manages also to locate him, but the scientist mind is now predominant. Gucky and Harno discover a device that turns out to be ready for use as a time-freezing unit. Gucky irresponsibly fiddles with the device. Onot enters in the time-freezing field, allowing their unknown friend to take control of his body. He still is not willing to save himself, because he thinks he has discovered something that he would like to investigate further.

The CALIFORNIA returns to Hades. Rhodan decides to stay some time in Hades to further pursue the military events. He is warned that the Myrtha system hypercom is constantly receiving messages in which the Robot Regent begs for help. They decide to ignore the appeal for now.

Meanwhile Rhodan has a suspicion who Onot's spiritual parasite might be.

Michael Mahoney 2009-12-14

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